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dents of both races are freely accepted. The same is true of the one school of mortuary science queried. This school offers training in embalming, funeral direction, medical technology, and X-ray technology. Approximately one fourth of its enrollment is Negro.

In other vocational areas, opportunities for training are more restricted. Interviews with four modeling schools reveal that no Negroes are admitted as students. Of seven technical schools offering courses in electronics, air conditioning, refrigeration, and drafting, five admit white students only; one will “consider” students of all races; and another will set up a special class for Negroes, if a sufficient number of applications are received. One of two commercial art schools interviewed admits white students only, and in the other a home study course is the only work offered for Negroes.

Barber and beauty schools in Houston are segregated. Of the three barber schools visited, two admit only whites, and one admits Negroes only. Eleven beauty schools were investigated; of this number eight restrict admission to whites, and three accept Negroes only.

All five hospitals offering nurses training state unequivocally that they admit no Negroes; one does train nurses' aides on an integrated basis, however. Discrimination in hospital training is apparent in areas other than that of nursing. Interviewers talked with representatives from six hospitals which offer courses in medical technology, histology, clinical pathology, and X-ray technology. Four of these institutions bar Negroes; one offers training in advanced medical technology, for which all qualified applicants are considered; the sixth indicates that it admits all qualified students to an X-ray training course and, in addition, has one opening a year for a Negro student in medical technology.

Directors of three vocational nursing agencies state that they list Negroes as well as whites. The experience of one agency indicates, however, that Negro nurses are discouraged because for them employment opportunities in this field are limited, due to a greater demand for white registrants.


Interviewers found some "unusual" jobs held by Negroes, unusual in the sense that they represent recent break-throughs. In the sales field there are several examples. A bakery, two automobile dealers, and a brewing company have hired Negro salesmen to work with their Negro customers. An office machine and business supply house has a Negro sales representative who works in the Negro community.

A large department store not only recently desegregated its lunch counter but has, quietly, upgraded a Negro woman from a menial job to salesclerk. She serves Negro and white customers alike; there have been no complaints from white employees or customers.

Another department store transferred a Negro girl from "marker" to salesclerk without incident, and yet another has hired a Negro secretary.

A leading daily paper employs a young Negro woman (a graduate of Texas Southern University) in its editorial department. Her duties consist mainly of reading, clipping, and filing cditorials.

An official of a national food processing firm reports that his company now has more Negroes in key positions than at any other time in the firm's history; these include foremen, supervisors, and coffee processors. Moreover, the taster in the coffee-blending department, a prestige position, is a Negro with long seniority. There are, however, few Negrocs in office or clerical work.

Two large Houston supermarket chains, one a national affiliate, employ Negro checkers in stores in predominantly Negro neighborhoods. That this is "unusual” employment is a sign of the distance yet to be traveled.


Of all the situations encountered, none seems more wasteful or illogical than the fact that Negroes trained in industrial skills and even in professional categories often work in jobs far below their capabilities. Negroes with college degrees drive trucks and work as deliverymen. The likelihood that their training will be put to practical use is slight; in most cases the Negroes are working for firms in fields not even related to their training.

There is a cliché in the segregationist's creed to the effect that a Negro must “earn” equality. It is an argument that many, even moderate Southerners, accept as a basic premise. When this "earning" process is complete, so the reasoning goes, the problem of racial discrimination will be solved. There is thus no need “to push the issue now.” The limitations now placed on Negro professional men and women in Houston (who, one supposes, have now "earned” their right to equal opportunity) establish a less optimistic but far sounder premise: Few industries voluntarily remove discriminatory barriers in the local employment of Negroes, even of those well qualified.

One observer in a position to know about Negro employment in Houston concludes that a college degree gives a Negro some competitive advantage over Negro high school graduates on the level, say, of stock clerk, but that it gives him little, if any, advantage over a white boy with a high school diploma competing for the same job.

Some white employers are suspicious of Negroes who have been to college, and refuse to hire them. This has caused Negroes with college degrees in chemistry, mathematics, and the liberal arts to admit, when questioned by a prospective employer as to educational background, to having only a high schooi diploma.

A large supermarket recently hired as a checker a Negro girl with a degree from Texas Southern University. This example of a Negro's working in a job for which she is overtrained merits comment, for her employment in this capacity is generally regarded as a break-through in the Negro employment picture.

The under-utilization of Negro ability begins in the classroom and reaches out into all other areas of work experience.

Two representatives from the Dallas Civil Service Regional Office visited Texas Southern University last year to explain civil service opportunities to the students. One area of federal employment which they emphasized was the post office department. A student posed the question of discrimination in the postal service. Could a Negro really be promoted to a level commensurate with his ability? The speaker admitted that no such guarantee could be made other than in formal regulations. There are, he said, procedural devices which can be used to discriminate. After the speaker made this admission, many of the students rose from their seats and quietly filed out of the room.

Of 3,412 employees in the Houston Post Office, 1,387 are Negroes. Of 765 Negro employees whose educational backgrounds were examined, 169 had high school education only; 81 had one year of college, 92 had two, and 83 had three; 138 were college graduates; four had master's degrees; and 41 had business administration diplomas.

A postal union official told a researcher that 98% of all Negro employees are at grade four or below. Less than ten are at level six; level seven-held by one Negro—is the highest grade attained by a Negro in the Houston post office. The official estimated that 85% of all Negro employees are carriers. Furthermore, Negroes have found it difficult to advance into positions as clerks; at first, those who succeeded worked only on night shifts where they would have no contact with white customers. This policy has since been changed.

There are 48 Negroes in the supervisory registry, with seniorities ranging from 31 to six years. Their previous employment includes such fields as journalism, welding, teaching, accounting, photo-engraving, radio and television repair, bookkeeping, and personnel management.

A survey of jobs currently held by 65 of last year's graduates at Texas Southern University, about half the class, discloses that three are practicing pharmacists, 12 are teachers, four are medical technicians, two are supermarket cashiers, two are working in the federal civil service, 16 are doing postgraduate work, and 18 are still unemployed. There is one each in the fields of barbering, journalism, photography, secretarial work, domestic service, and state civil service; one replied that she is a housewife. The 65 queried are now living in nine states and the District of Columbia. At least 23 are employed at levels considerably below their educational attainments. One out of three of those reporting is holding a job which would be classified as menial or little better.

There are many small firms and businesses in Houston which commonly exploit Negro training and ability. An employment counselor points to the case of a Houston firm which ostensibly employs a Negro as a janitor-but insists that he be able to use a typewriter! Smaller dress shops, too, employ as maids Negro women who double as salesladies, “if," as one employer candidly states it, “they aren't too obtrusive.” Again, Negro handymen in service stations often are skilled mechanics and do a mechanic's work. In none of these instances does extra pay or status accompany the extra duty.

In the Houston school system, janitorial jobs for Negroes are limited to Negro schools. Negro maids, on the other hand, work in white schools, where they work under the supervision of white janitors. Negro women work as helpers in lunchrooms in white schools but are employed as lunchroom managers only in Negro schools. The school system employs no Negro plumbers, electricians, carpenters, or painters.


Negroes in professional vocations in Houston have firsthand exposure to racial discrimination. The Houston Bar Association, for example, does not admit Negrocs, and there are no Negrocs in the city legal department. A Negro lawyer in the community finds little recognition of his potential by white colleagues, consequently, members of his own race do not feel that he would be as successful in handling their cases as would a white lawyer.

In none of the city's hospitals—including the City-County Charity Hospital—can a Negro physician intern or practice medicine. This is true even where Negro patients are admitted to special, segregated wards.

Nurses fare somewhat better. They work in a staff capacity in all but one of Houston's hospitals--in each situation shifts and patient loads are integrated-and in three hospitals they can advance to head nurse. The hospitals hire Negroes as aides and vocational nurses; many employ or will consider Negroes as laboratory and X-ray technicians, medical technologists, and in other technical capacities. Except for one hospital, these allied medical fields represent one of the prominent areas of occupational break-through for Houston Negroes.

A Negro girl in Houston who wishes to become a nurse attends

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