1925 May 8

A. Philip Randolph Organizes Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters


A. Philip Randolph, who became one of the most important civil rights leaders in the mid-twentieth century, had his base of support with the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, an all-African-American labor union. The union, which he organized on this day, gave him a base of support independent of whites, which no other civil rights leader enjoyed until the election of large numbers of African-Americans to political office beginning in the late 1960s.

Randolph had a remarkable career of confronting U.S. presidents in the White House. On September 27, 1940 he confronted President Franklin D. Roosevelt over the racial segregation in the new 1940 selective service act. He forced President Franklin D. Roosevelt to issue Executive Order 8802 banning employment discrimination in defense industries on June 25, 1941, after a dramatic confrontation with FDR in the White House on June 18, 1941. Seven years later, Randolph confronted President Harry Truman in the White House, on March 22, 1948, over the racially segregated U.S. armed forces. That confrontation was one of several pressures that led Truman to desegregate the armed forces, on July 26, 1948. Finally, on June 22, 1963, he rebuffed President John F. Kennedy’s attempt to have civil rights leaders cancel their planned march on Washington planned for August.

Learn more about Randolph: Andrew Kersten, A Philip Randolph: A Life in the Vanguard (2007)

Watch a short documentary on Randolph: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjxN2XjUo0U

Learn about Randolph and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters: http://www.youtube.com/watchv=llVFUXPQiqE

Check out the work of the A. Philip Randolph Institute:  http://apri.org/

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