Running deep

The first time John Stokes tried to follow in his father’s footsteps as a letter carrier, things didn’t quite go according to, well, postal regulations.

John, a 51-year-old USPS employee in Stillwater, OK, grew up 25 miles away in Cushing, where his dad, Perry — known as “Red” — began a five-decade career in 1959.

John recalls a few times at age 10 when he would gather up mail in the neighborhood and redeliver it.

Only he wasn’t quite as accurate as his dad was.

“He got some calls from the neighbors,” John says with a chuckle. “But they were good-natured and understanding.”

Red was far more encouraging when John decided to become an official letter carrier in 1999. Their postal careers would overlap for a decade until Red died in 2009, still going strong at 80 with no intention to retire.

“He loved his job more than anything,” says John, who occasionally dons a postal uniform necktie in memory of his always sharply dressed father. “He was an icon in the community.”

Although the postal pair never got to work together in the same office, that hasn’t been the case for John and his 20-year-old son, Brady, who joined the Postal Service in 2019 as a city carrier assistant.

They see each other daily on the job in Stillwater, a lively city of 50,000 that’s home to the flagship Oklahoma State University campus.

“It’s strengthened our relationship,” John says, “just as it did with my dad. The Postal Service gave us something important in common: This is our area where we serve humanity. Now I get to share that with my son.”

“My father and grandfather definitely had an influence on me,” says Brady, who’s doing “a little college and a lot of work” in hopes of establishing a long-lasting postal career. “They were always happy, and they always talked to me about their jobs.”

Brady enjoys postal discussions with his dad even more these days, whether it’s at the office or during family gatherings.

“I like talking to him,” he says. “We’re more buddies now.”

“A father-son duo is a rarity,” says Stillwater Customer Services Manager Sheri Maynard, “and I like it. They share the same strong work ethic, and they’re both willing to help anyone.”

Maynard often hears John ask her: “‘Is he doing OK?’”

Which is inevitably followed by Brady’s voice: “‘Is my dad talking about me again?’”

“Just the other day, I told John, ‘He’s doing great,’” Maynard says. “‘He’s taking after you.’”

Arts advocate

Alain LeRoy Locke was a respected figure of the Harlem Renaissance who wrote and edited some of the arts movement’s most significant publications and played a leading role in supporting and promoting African American writers and artists.

Locke (1885-1954) is one of four African American literary figures who’ll be featured on Voices of the Harlem Renaissance, a stamp pane that USPS will release this week.

Born in Philadelphia, Locke was an exceptional student who graduated from Harvard University with honors in 1907. He became the first African American Rhodes scholar, studying at the University of Oxford in England and later at the University of Berlin.

In 1912, Locke began teaching at Howard University in Washington, DC, where he would remain, with only a few gaps, for more than 40 years. In 1918, he earned a doctorate degree in philosophy from Harvard.

Locke edited “Harlem: Mecca of the New Negro,” a special 1925 issue of the Survey Graphic magazine that was devoted to African American culture. The publication emphasized the work of more than two dozen prominent activists, civil rights leaders, historians and poets, and became one of the most important publications of the Harlem Renaissance.

Locke’s contribution to the issue was “Enter the New Negro,” an essay in which he predicted that African Americans were entering a new era of self-respect, self-reliance and pride.

Later that year, Locke used the special issue as the basis for his book, “The New Negro: An Interpretation,” which placed a greater emphasis on art and culture, including fiction, poetry, music and drama.

Locke edited the 1927 book “Four Negro Poets” and worked to secure financial support for black writers and artists.

Until 1952, Locke published annual surveys of African American literature and a series of books about African American life. In 1942, he co-edited “When Peoples Meet,” a landmark collection of essays about race relations.

Locke’s legacy has endured.

Howard University’s Arts and Sciences building is named for him, as well as schools in several cities, including Philadelphia. In 1973, Harvard hosted a scholarly symposium on his accomplishments, and since 1993 has awarded the Alain Locke Prize to the most outstanding student of African American studies.

This is the second of four profiles of the African American literary figures who’ll be featured on the Voices of the Harlem Renaissance stamps. Tomorrow: Arturo Alfonso Schomburg.

Share your leads

Sales leads from Postal Service employees have helped the organization raise more than $679 million in estimated annualized revenue so far this fiscal year.

USPS wants to raise $1 billion before the year concludes Sept. 30, an initiative known as the Race for a $Billion campaign.

The latest weekly ranking of the organization’s 67 districts, released May 14, shows that San Diego employees have provided $29.1 million worth of sales leads. Other top-ranked districts include Detroit ($25.7 million), Rio Grande ($23.4 million), Suncoast ($21.4 million) and Dallas ($20.8 million).

“Across the nation, in communities of every size, Postal Service employees are rising to the challenge and coming to the aid of their local businesses,” said Mary Anderson, small-business engagement director at USPS headquarters in Washington, DC. “Our employees are talking to their neighborhood businesses to find out how we can help them get back on the road to recovery through our affordable shipping and marketing services.”

Employees can submit leads through several programs, including Clerks Care (for retail associates), Customer Connect (for letter carriers), Mail Handlers (for mail handlers), Rural Reach (for rural carriers) and Submit a Lead (for everyone else, including Executive and Administrative Schedule employees).

The Sales Blue page has more information about each program, including participation instructions.

Unlimited learning

USPS employees have access to live, online training at a discount from Pryor Learning Solutions, an industry leader in business training.

Employees can receive a year’s worth of unlimited training for $99 and gain access to more than 1,000 live seminars, more than 7,000 in-person seminars and more than 5,000 online courses that are available online 24/7.

Currently, all live seminars are offered virtually.

Employees can also earn professional certification credits to add to their profile in the Postal Service’s HERO learning portal.

More than 2,500 online courses can be completed in less time than a coffee break. Additionally, Pryor offers SkillBuilder courses that are geared toward individuals who learn through hands-on activities.

Courses are available in more than 15 categories, including communications, Excel, leadership and project management.

USPS announced the availability of Pryor Learning Solutions training this year.

The Employee Deals LiteBlue page has more information.