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[[image - black and white photograph of large group of men at a demonstration]]

[[image - black and white photograph of large group of people holding signs at a protest; signs read WE DEMAND VOTING RIGHTS NOW!, UAW SAYS END SEGREGATED RULES IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS, WE DEMAND EQUAL RIGHTS NOW!, and JOBS FOR ALL NOW]]
[[photo credit]] Courtesy of EBONY MAGAZINE [[/photo credit]]

Slave ships from England, Portugal, Spain and the United States carried thousands of blacks from the West Coast of Africa to the Americas to provide the free labor that helped develop the agriculture of the New World. It was not until long after the Civil War that men like A. Philip Randolph (above, far l. in union demonstration in New York City in the 1920s and third from r. at right in March on Washington in 1963) could bring the black laborer into the mainstream of the American working class. Now 86, Randolph has retired and makes his home in New York.


President, International Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters

Regarded as the "elder statesman" among civil rights leaders, A. Philip Randolph was for many years head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and, later in his career, also served as president of the Negro American Labor Council.

Born in Crescent City, Florida in 1889, Randolph was at first attracted to a writing career, and served for a time as an editor of the "Messenger," a journal of opinion, also contributing articles to "Opportunity" magazine. In 1925, he organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, eventually to become the strongest Negro labor union, and later became the first Negro vice-president of the AFL-CIO.

During World War II, Randolph threatened to stage a march on the nation's capital in protest against discriminatory practices in the defense establishment, and eventually helped persuade President Franklin D. Roosevelt to issue an executive order eliminating such practices. Later, he was an effective lobbyist for the establishment of a fair employment practices committee. 

Randolph was one of the major forces behind the 1963 March on Washington. Three years later, he stepped down from his post with the Negro American Labor Council, where he was succeeded by Cleveland Robinson. 

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