A. Philip Randolph: A Biographical Portrait
By Jervis Anderson, with a foreword by A.H. Raskin
This is a fascinating biography of a great American hero. A. Philip Randolph (1889-1979) was not only the most famous African American labor leader of his time, he was also a key figure in the civil rights movement.
In 1925, Randolph founded the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first union of African American workers, and he remained its president until 1968. Though the union was small in numbers, its place in labor history looms large, in no small part because of Randolph’s leadership.
Throughout his career, Randolph used his power and reputation to push for equal rights and pay for African Americans. His persistence during World War II helped pressure President Roosevelt to establish fair employment practices in the defense industries and federal agencies. Later, his intensive lobbying was instrumental in President Truman’s decision to desegregate the armed forces.
Randolph tangled at times with other labor leaders -- John L. Lewis and George Meany among them -- but his 1955 election as an AFL-CIO vice-president was recognition of his life-long struggle against racial discrimination in the labor movement.
At 75, Randolph instigated and directed the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The civil rights legislation that followed is perhaps his greatest legacy.
Read this book and you will be grateful for this remarkable man in our midst. 398 pages paperback