Airlines in America today have a very diverse staff. You will find pilots, flight attendants, and other staff of both genders, from all races, and from all nationalities. However, that was not always the case. The airline industry was notorious for discriminating against African Americans throughout the 1950s and 60s. That is, until Marlon Green came along.
Marlon Green was a very accomplished United States Air Force pilot, having logged 3,071 hours in many different types of airplanes. Green’s last Air Force Assignment was flying the SA-16 Albatross out of Tokyo while assigned to the 36th air rescue squadron. In 1957, Marlon Green decided he wanted to retire from the Air Force and become an airline pilot. He applied to a number of airlines, and on each application, he checked “black” in the race box and attached a small picture, as required. He was outwardly rejected by all but one, Continental Airlines. Green left the race box blank and did not attach a picture to his Continental airlines application. He was invited to an interview. Green, feeling the interview went well, and relying on his stellar qualifications, was disheartened to find out he did not get the job. Instead, the airline hired five far less qualified, white pilots.
Green decided to act. He sued Continental Airlines, eventually taking his case to the United States Supreme Court. The Court reported,
“After administrative hearings, the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Commission found that respondent, an interstate air carrier with headquarters in Colorado, had, within that State, rejected the application of a Negro for a job as a pilot solely because of his race, and that this was an unfair employment practice prohibited by the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act of 1957, and it ordered respondent to cease and desist from such discriminatory practices and to give the complainant the first opportunity to enroll in its training school in its next course. On review, a state court held that the Act could not constitutionally be applied to the flight crew of an interstate air carrier, and it set aside the Commission's findings and dismissed the complaint. The Supreme Court of Colorado affirmed.”
Obviously, this was an erroneous finding by the Colorado Supreme Court. The United States Supreme Court reversed the State’s ruling and, eventually, Marlon Green was hired by Continental Airlines and admitted into the next training class where, of course, he excelled.
Marlon Green went on to work for Continental Airlines for fourteen years, until he retired. This was a landmark decision in the 1960s. This brave, Air Force trained pilot, paved the way for the diversity we see every day in our national transportation system. Even in the face of overwhelming discrimination, he persevered and won. He had the courage to see his battle through and fight for his dreams.
Racial discrimination and discrimination based on other protected classes is still a major problem in this country. If you feel you are being discriminated against, call me. I can help.