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RECOGNIZING A. PHILIP RANDOLPH FOR HIS LIFELONG LEADERSHIP AND WORK TO END DISCRIMINATION

RECOGNIZING A. PHILIP RANDOLPH FOR HIS LIFELONG LEADERSHIP AND WORK TO END DISCRIMINATION

(House of Representatives - December 15, 2009)

Mr. Speaker, no one can start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending. A. Philip Randolph was one of the many to make a new ending for not just himself, but the world around him. A. Philip Randolph was a prominent twentieth-century African-American civil rights leader and the founder of both the March on Washington Movement and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, a landmark for labor and particularly for African-American labor organizing. Inspired from the writing of W.E.B. Dubois, Souls of Black Folk; this graduate of Bethune-Cookman College and son of an A.M.E. preacher took his beliefs and made them manifest through serving others.

   Randolph had some experience in labor organization, having organized a union of elevator operators in New York City in 1917. In 1925 Randolph organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. This was the first serious effort to form a labor institution for the employees of the Pullman Company, which was a major employer of African-Americans. With amendments to the Railway Labor Act in 1934, porters were granted rights under federal law, and membership in the Brotherhood jumped to more than 7,000. After years of bitter struggle, the Pullman Company finally began to negotiate with the Brotherhood in 1935, and agreed to a contract with them in 1937, winning $2,000,000 in pay increases for employees, a shorter workweek, and overtime pay. Randolph maintained the Brotherhood's affiliation with the American Federation of Labor through the 1955 AFL-CIO merger.

   Randolph was also responsible for the organization of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963 with the help of Rustin and Martin Luther King, Jr. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is often attributed in part to the success of the March on Washington, where Black and White Americans stood united and witnessed King's ``I Have a Dream'' speech. As the U.S. civil rights movement gained momentum in the early 1960s and came to the forefront of the nation's consciousness, his rich baritone voice was often heard on television news programs addressing the nation on behalf of African-Americans engaged in the struggle for voting rights and an end to discrimination in public accommodations. He was also an active participant in many other organizations and causes, including the Workmen's Circle and others.

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