The War Opened Doors for Women and African Americans
From 1912 until 1944, there were two major street railways in San Francisco – one public (Muni) and one private (the Market Street Railway). The war effort led to a surge in the hiring of women and minorities. But while the private company promised women permanent jobs after the war’s end, Muni offered only “the duration and six months.” But one of San Francisco’s first African-American streetcar conductors—on the Market Street Line—was the poet Maya Angelou, who wrote about the experience in her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Angelou never actually worked for Muni; she left before the two railways merged in 1944. This photo, taken three years later, showcases the system’s diversity.