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ASA PHILIP RANDOLPH

LABOR LEADER AND CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST (1889-1979)

Asa Philip Randolph was born on April 15, 1889, in Crescent City, Florida.  He was a trade unionist and civil-rights leader who was a dedicated and persistent leader in the struggle for justice and party for the African American community.  A. Philip Randolph was the son of a Methodist minister.  Randolph moved to the Harlem district of New York City in 1911.   He attended City College at night, and with Chandler Owen, founded an employment agency in 1912. 

Through it he hoped to organize Black workers.  In 1917, following the entry of the U.S. in World War I, the two men founded a magazine named "The Messenger." After 1929 it was renamed "The Black Worker."  The magazine called for more positions in the war industry and the armed forces for Blacks.  After the war, Randolph lectured at New York's Rand School of Social Science and ran unsuccessfully for offices on the Socialist Party ticket. 

In 1925, as founding president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, Randolph began organizing that group of African American workers and at a time when half the affiliates of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) barred Blacks from membership, took his union into the AFL.  Despite opposition, he built the first successful Black trade union.  The brotherhood won its first major contract with the Pullman Company in 1937.

Revised: July 18, 2013.