The NAPFE's history reveals why I always say that my personal black history is American history:
It begins in the late 1890's and early 1900's when the Railway Mail Service was the most important phase of the postal service outside the area of first-class post offices. Nearly every railroad which passed through or near sizable towns had a mail car. The clerk in the mail car was responsible for receiving and dispatching mail in accordance with official schemes, schedules and special instructions. A great majority of the railway mail clerks were black. The Railway Mail Service was operating with dangerous wooden cars which guaranteed casualty in train wrecks. As a result, competition for the hazardous positions was slight and blacks were more readily hired as railway clerks until the railways conversion from wooden to steel railway cars in 1913.
With the advent of steel cars, a concerted effort was made to eliminate black railway mail workers. Since the Railway Mail Association excluded blacks from its membership, black workers did not have the benefit of an industrial organization to appeal to for their defense. This was the situation facing black workers when a call went out to black railway mail clerks in August 1913 to convene in Tennessee in October for the purpose of joining forces to combat the discrimination they were encountering.
Thirteen states were represented at that first meeting on October 2, 1913 at the foot of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee when the National Alliance of Postal Employees was founded. The major concerns of that founding meeting were: to provide a beneficiary department and an insurance department to enable black railway clerks to make suitable provisions for their families; to launch a national journal dedicated to the interests of black railway mail clerks; and to establish means to effectively present their grievances and petitions to the Post Office Department.
In 1923, the National Alliance became the first industrial Union in the United States when it opened its membership to any postal employee who desired to join.
As reported in the THE RED BOOK OF HOUSTON [a compendium of social, professional, religious, educational and industrial interests of Houston's colored population which was published in 1915]
His Redbook entry stated:
For more information about Mason Barnett Patten click here.