A. Philip Randolph was born on April 15, 1889 in Crescent City, Florida. The son of an A.M.E. minister, Randolph attended the Methodist Cookman Institute in Jacksonville, which later merged with Mary McLeod Bethune’s school. In 1911 Randolph headed north for New York City, where he would make his name and career in black union organizing. Unlike other black leaders such as W. E. B. DuBois, Randolph was convinced that organizing the black working class was vital for securing civil rights. Also unlike DuBois, Randolph urged black men not to serve in World War I, which earned him the appellation “the most dangerous man in America” from president Woodrow Wilson. In 1925 Randolph founded the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, a union of black porters which became a formidable organization and made its founder famous.
Randolph is remembered primarily for three events. On June 25, 1941 Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802, which effectively ended discrimination in the defense industries. Randolph had threatened a massive march on Washington if the president didn’t sign the order. Similarly, on July 26, 1948 Henry Truman signed Executive Order 9981, which desegregated the armed forces. Randolph led and organized the protests leading to that order. Third, Randolph was the key mover behind the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which was organized by his protégé, Bayard Rustin. In 1968 Randolph stepped down from the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, but maintained interest in civil rights and labor largely through the AFL-funded, A. Philip Randolph Institute. Randolph died on May 16, 1979 in New York City at the age of 90. His wife, Lucille, preceded him in death. His papers are housed at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
In this brief address at the 1957 Prayer Pilgrimage, Randolph pledges support for the NAACP, praises Dr. King and the movement in Montgomery, urges
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Publication information: Book title: Rhetoric, Religion and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965. Contributors: Davis W. Houck - Editor, David E. Dixon - Editor. Publisher: Baylor University Press. Place of publication: Waco, TX. Publication year: 2006. Page number: 246.
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