Continental Airlines (NYSE: CAL) named one of its aircraft in honor of its late Capt. Marlon Green, who won a landmark legal battle to become the first African American pilot hired by a major U.S. passenger airline, in a special ceremony at Bush Intercontinental Airport today.
HOUSTON – “Capt. Green was a pioneer who was willing to challenge the unacceptable status quo of the time and paved the way for the most qualified applicants to be hired, regardless of the color of their skin,” said Jeff Smisek, Continental’s chairman, president and chief executive officer. “His bold actions have helped make Continental what it is today, a company of great diversity.”
Green resigned from the U.S. Air Force in 1957 after nine years and more than 3,000 hours of flying multi-engine aircraft to apply for a job with a commercial airline. He was rejected by every airline at which he applied, including Continental, where he was granted a flight test and interview only after he declined to note his race on his application. Continental’s refusal to hire him while hiring other less qualified applicants became the basis of his six-year legal challenge that culminated with a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1963, which ensured no applicant for a pilot’s position would be denied a job on the basis of race. Green finally began flying for Continental in 1965 and he remained with the company for 14 years until his retirement. He died in 2009 at the age of 80.
Today, thanks in part to Capt. Green’s pioneering efforts, Continental’s workforce represents a rich diversity of cultures and lifestyles, where ethnic minorities account for more than 40 percent of the domestic workforce. The company’s Diversity Council, Supplier Diversity Program, Diversity Awareness Training and Diversity Awareness Events all support a commitment to diversity and inclusion within Continental’s long-standing culture of treating each other with dignity and respect.
Continental Airlines is the world’s fifth largest airline. Continental, together with Continental Express and Continental Connection, has more than 2,500 daily departures throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia, serving 133 domestic and 135 international destinations. Continental is a member of Star Alliance, which overall offers 19,700 daily flights to 1,077 airports in 175 countries through its 26 member airlines. With more than 41,000 employees, Continental has hubs serving New York, Houston, Cleveland and Guam, and, together with its regional partners, carries approximately 63 million passengers per year.
Continental consistently earns awards and critical acclaim for both its operation and its corporate culture. For the sixth consecutive year, FORTUNE magazine named Continental the No. 1 World’s Most Admired Airline on its 2009 list of World’s Most Admired Companies. For more company information, go to continental.com.
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