Black in the Day…Chi-Town History

September 11, 1966:

On this day Henry McGee, a 37-year postal veteran, was appointed as Postmaster of Chicago. He was not only the city’s first black Postmaster, he was also reportedly the first career postal employee to lead a major Post Office in the United States.

He took the reins of the Chicago postal region in 1966, at a time when racial intolerance in Chicago was perhaps at its worst and the postmaster position had generally been held by German-Americans. During his appointment ceremony, Mayor Richard J. Daley praised Mr. McGee as a man who rose to the top through hard work, and Mr. McGee vowed before the crowd of almost 1,000 people to allow others to do the same.

Although his appointment and confirmation as postmaster were racial milestones for the city, it marked the culmination of an aggressive career for Mr. McGee, who had joined the postal service in 1929 as a temporary substitute clerk.

McGee also became active in work with the Chicago Branch of the NAACP and in 1946 was elected President.  At 36 he was the youngest person ever chosen to lead the Branch, and the first person in that position from a working class background.  Under his presidency, the Chicago NAACP opened its doors to organized labor. In 1973, Mayor Richard Daley appointed McGee to the Chicago Board of Education. He also served as President of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and for seventeen years as President of the Joint Negro Appeal, an organization dedicated to serving underprivileged African American youth.

He passed away March 18, 2000 at 90 years old.

 

 

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