Congress to vote on renaming post office after McCraw, advocate for workforce equality
on October 31, 2016
On November 30, 1956, Harold D. McCraw began work at the Post Office in Richmond. He was a 19-year-old black man who worked hard to better himself and his community.
He worked his way up until 1974, when he became Richmond’s postmaster, and one of the city’s leading advocates of equality in the workforce.
Now, 15 years after his death, McCraw appears headed for a permanent place in Richmond’s history.
Last Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier told a group of McCraw’s family, friends and neighbors that he was introducing legislation to rename the Richmond Main Post Office in McCraw’s honor.
“We’re doing this to bring Harold’s memory alive to teach younger generations,” DeSaulnier said. “They need to pick up the torch, and be everything that Harold was and engage in the community.”
DeSaulnier’s predecessor, George Miller, was the first to bring the idea to Congress, and DaSaulnier said he was sponsoring legislation needed to change the building name.
Nineteen of the 53 members of the California congressional delegation required to rename a federal building are on board so far, DeSaulnier said. If the rest come along, the proposal would be presented to Congress, at which point opposition would be unlikely.
DeSaulnier said he was confident that all members will agree by mid-November or December.
That news helped add to the happy mood last Wednesday, a glorious sunny day downtown, as one after another of McCraw’s friends and relatives sang his praises.
McCraw’s sister, Annie Jones described her brother as a mentor who inspired people to fight for equality in the workforce.
She shared memories from the 1970s, when McCraw helped African American workers fight discrimination and keep their jobs. McCraw stressed the importance of presenting yourself well to employers and showing up on time, Jones recalled. He also helped workers write letters asking for promotions.
Alice Belton, a longtime friend of the McCraw family, recalled meeting him in 1968, when Belton and McCraw’s sister both worked at the telephone company. He advised them on ways to create more job opportunities for minorities.
“He spent countless hours working with us, helping us with negotiations and conflict resolutions,” Belton said. “As a result of his effort we were able to get several African Americans promoted into management positions.”
“His hard work and dedication will live on,” she said.
Former state Assemblyman Bob Campbell knew McCraw from their grammar school days. Both men attended Richmond High School and continued to support one another throughout their careers.
“Harold was always the kindest, nicest, most involved person no matter what he was doing,” Campbell said. “He always had a smile.” He remembered seeing that smile when Harold worked part-time after school moving refrigerators for an appliance store at 13th and McDonald streets.
Joe Fisher showed up in a beige three-piece suit with a yellow silk tie and matching yellow pocket square. He used to own a clothing store downtown, and McCraw would come in almost every week to buy a suit, a tie or a pair of pastel socks to go with the suit he had bought a week before.
McCraw was always sharply dressed, and he enjoyed shopping in Fisher’s store. But the main reason he kept coming in, Fisher said, was to help keep the business going.
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