A. Philip Randolph

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A. Philip Randolph

A. Philip Randolph was a prominent activist and civil rights leader. Bayard Rustin and Randolph founded the AFL-CIO organization, the A. Philip Randolph Institute.[1] He also founded the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

Joseph Rauh represented Randolph in a 1951 suit to force the integration of an all-white railroad organization.[2]

Local 1199

In New York City in 1959, Martin Luther King, Jr. King joined A. Philip Randolph and Malcolm X in supporting the white, black and Puerto Rican hospital workers of NewYork’s newly organized Local 1199. Over 3,000 hospital workers—laundry workers, cafeteria workers, janitors and orderlies—struck seven New York private hospitals. At the bottom of the new service economy they were legally barred from collective bargaining; excluded from minimum wage protections and unemployment compensation; and denied the medical insurance that might give them access to the hospitals where they worked. Harlem’s black community rallied to their defense. King cheered a struggle that transcended “a fight for union rights” and had become a multiracial “fight for human rights.”[3]

Negro American Labor Council

The Negro American Labor Council grew out of the efforts of labor leader A. Philip Randolph, who was discontented with the apathy of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) on civil rights issues. In 1959, Randolph proposed the idea of a black labor organization at the NAACP convention.

In May 1960, Randolph was elected president of the new organization and Cleveland Robinson became vice president. On May 23, 1961, Randolph telegraphed Dr. Martin Luther King about NALC’s strong support for the Freedom Rides. In a March 1963 telegram, Randolph and NALC petitioned King to endorse their best known effort, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. After Robinson became president in 1966, NALC officially joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.[4]

Organizing the March on Washington

The March on Washington was initiated by A. Philip Randolph who was the International president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, President of the Negro American Labor Council, and Vice President of the AFL-CIO

Planning for the event was complicated by differences among members. Known in the press as "the big six," the major players were Randolph; Whitney Young, President of the National Urban League; Roy Wilkins, President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; James Farmer, President of the Congress of Racial Equality; John Lewis, President of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Martin Luther King Jr., the founder and President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Bayard Rustin, a close associate of Randolph's and organizer of the first Freedom Ride in 1947, orchestrated and administered the majority of the details of the march.[5]

Socialist Party influence

According to Boston Democratic Socialists of America publication Yankee Radical, September/October 2010 page 3, the Socialist Party USA played a major role in organizing Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. According to Boston DSA several Socialist Party members played key roles in organizing the march, including A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, Tom Kahn, Rachelle Horowitz and Norm Hill. King himself was in the Socialist Party in Boston during his student days in the early 1950s, according then Socialist Party member, now DSAer Bogdan Denitch.[6]

If anything, one aspect of the 1963 rally, deliberately down-played at the time for fear of red-baiting, was the influence of members of the Socialist Party, DSA’s major predecessor organization, in both organizing the event and its politics. This began with A. Philip Randolph, who issued the call for the March and MC’d it, his longtime lieutenant Bayard Rustin, and his key assistants who ran the March organizing office in NY—Tom Kahn, Rachelle Horowitz, Norm Hill and others, SPers all. (According to Honorary DSA Chair Bogdan Denitch, who was in a position to know, Matin Luther King himself was briefly in the Socialist Party in the early 1950s while attending Boston University.)

March on Washington - key four

According to Democratic Left, Winter 2012, page 10, four democratic socialists organized the 1963 March on Washington – A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, Martin Luther King, Jr., and UAW president Walter Reuther.[7]

ACLU Member

As at Feb. 8, 1946, A. Philip Randolph served on the National Committee of the American Civil Liberties Union.[8]

Socialist Debs award

Every year since the mid 1960s the Indiana based Eugene V. Debs Foundation holds Eugene Debs Award Banquet in Terre Haute, to honor an approved social or labor activist. The 1967 honoree, was A. Philip Randolph.[9]

External link


Template:Eugene V. Debs Award recipients