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A. Philip Randolph: What You Need to Know About the Founder of the First Black Labor Union in the US

There are so many prominent African-American leaders and Philip Randolph just happens to be one of them in the 20th century. He was an influential #Black civil rights leader. He was the founder of the first #Black labor union in the United States. Randolph was considered to be a humble person. He never viewed others around him any less or above anyone else. It could be because he did not grow up being “racially internalized.”

Randolph’s father was a minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and he later he moved the family to Jacksonville, Fla, in 1891. As most young black men did during that time Randolph eventually moved up North seeking better opportunities. He moved to New York where he tried to break into showbiz. His parents were against it, so he went on to the City College of New York. He started out studying politics and later switched to economics. He met his wife Lucille Green while attending college. She was a teacher who had quit that career to operate a beauty salon. Randolph had strong political views and he was not afraid to discuss them. Because of his views Lucille’s beauty salon begin to suffer and she lost customers who disagreed with the views of Randolph’s.


Randolph met Chandler Owen, a sociology student, and together they formed and a radical Harlem magazine (The Messenger) which was influenced by Hubert Harrison. Randolph at one time ran for the New York’s Secretary of State in 1921, but his attempt was unsuccessful. He later organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. His greatest success came with the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, who elected him President in 1925. It would be his first attempt to seriously for a labor union for employees of the Pullman Company. During that time Pullman Company employed a lot of Black people, so many people did not take too kindly to what Randolph was trying to accomplish.

The Pullman Company finally began to negotiate with the Brotherhood in 1935, and a contract was agreed upon in 1937. The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters won $2,000,000 in pay increases for employees, shorter workweek, and overtime pay. The Brotherhood was then associated with the American Federation of Labor. Randolph emerged as one of the most visible spokespersons for civil rights. He worked with Martin Luther King Jr., in 1941. In 1947, Randolph formed the Committee against Jim Crow in the Military.

Randolph finally realized his vision for a March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963, which attracted close to 300 thousand to the nation’s capital. The rally is often remembered as the high-point of the Civil Rights Movement, and it did help keep the issue in the public aware. However, when President Kennedy was assassinated three months later, Civil Rights legislation was stalled in the Senate. It was not until the following year that the Civil Rights Act was passed.


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