During the final week of December, Link is reviewing the most memorable stories of 2020. Here are 10 favorites:
1. “We stood our ground.” Every Postal Service employee has a story — and Gail Etienne-Stripling’s is part of history. The Tulsa, OK, mail processing clerk was 6 years old in 1960 when she and two other first-grade girls became the first students to integrate the New Orleans public school system.
2. “Birthday boss.” For more than three decades, Belfor Holdings CEO Sheldon Yellen has written personalized birthday cards annually for every employee in the company — all 9,200 of them.
3. “In the stream.” Netflix’s video streaming service is surging during the coronavirus pandemic as millions of homebound Americans binge on movies and TV shows, but as this article showed, the digital media giant is still in the mailstream, too. In fact, more than 2 million people received DVDs in the mail through Netflix’s rental service last year.
4. “Living legacy.” Gwen Ifill, the subject of this year’s Black Heritage stamp, wasn’t just a journalism pioneer. This article showed she was also a mentor to many female journalists of color, including CNN’s Jasmine Wright and Pamela Kirkland.
5. “Pandemic parallels.” The COVID-19 crisis isn’t the first time the nation’s postal system has risen to the occasion during a national health emergency. Postal workers also played a critical role during the 1918-19 influenza pandemic.
6. “On hand for history.” USPS still has many workers who were around in 1970 when the U.S. Post Office Department began transforming into the Postal Service, but this article introduced readers to Ursula Hennessy, likely the last living postal eyewitness from the ceremony where the landmark Postal Reorganization Act was signed.
7-8. “Well done” and “Keeping it clean.” These two stories looked at some of the Postal Service’s unsung heroes during the pandemic: the occupational health nurses who help ensure USPS workers are healthy and the custodians who help keep postal workplaces clean.
9. “Mail the vote.” Before the pandemic changed the way people voted, Link paid a visit to Rockville, MD, one of several cities that turned mailboxes into ballot boxes, spurred by research that shows allowing people to vote by mail increases turnout.
10. “Curtain recall.” If you enjoyed “Hamilton,” this summer’s stage-turned-streaming blockbuster, you’ve probably thought, “Gee, why should the Department of the Treasury have all the fun? Where’s a Postal Service-loving Broadway musical?” It turns out there was one: “Mail,” which had a brief run on the Great White Way during the 1980s.