A. Philip Randolph

Rico Lewis

On April 15th, 1889, in Cresent City, Florida, A. Philip Randolph was born and raised by his religious family, as his father was a preacher. In addition, the family was taught to fight for Civil Rights, to his father, mother, and brothers. Eventually, Randolph graduated in 1911 from Jacksonville’s Cookman Institute to later relocate to New York City to study at the City College of New York, to provide financially for himself, he worked three jobs in New York City, elevator operator, a porter, and a waiter.

After some classes, he was inspired by the literature provided by figures like William Shakespeare, which he took note of to later use for public speaking. After getting married in 1914, he helped organize the Shakespearean Society in Harlem and played the roles of Hamlet, Othello, and Romeo. Additionally, he joined the socialist party of Eugene V. Debs at the age of twenty-one. He believed that workers should have the political power and ability to distribute goods. That political belief would guide him into significant roles in history later in his life.

One example of that statement would be his push for black worker rights, he became the foremost supporter of the full integration of black workers into the American trade union movement. In 1925, he founded the organization called Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP), which is the first African American union in the country.

Later, Randolph served as president of the BSCP and a vice-president of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. While achieving these milestones he was also able to create major executive orders for the government, the first one was in 1941 in the mist of WWII, he made the idea to create a massive march on Washington, D.C., to protest the exclusion of African Americans workers from jobs in the industries that were producing war supplies.

He agreed to call off the march only after President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802, which banned discrimination in defense plants and established the nation’s first Fair Employment Practice Committee. Secondly, in 1948, Randolph warned President Harry Truman about the possibility of segregation within the armed forces, and if he did not abolish that act, masses of black workers would refuse to enter the armed forces. Truman complied and made the Executive Order 9981 to abolish segregation within the armed forces.

Those are the two executive orders he had caused, but he achieved way more politically for the civil rights of African Americans. In 1979, he passed in New York City, yet his influence was not tainted, he is in history books and has a school named after him in Jacksonville, Florida.