Photograph by John Bottega / New York World-Telegram & Sun.

A. Philip Randolph

(1889 - 1979)

After briefly trying to become a Shakespearean actor in Harlem and running the magazine The Messenger, which the Justice Department called “the most able and the most dangerous of all the Negro publications,” A. Philip Randolph became the founding president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, a position that led him to a lifetime of labor and civil rights work. He later co-organized the March on Washington in 1963. “The plain and simple fact,” he said in his speech that day, “is that until we went into the streets the federal government was indifferent to our demands. It was not until the streets and jails of Birmingham were filled that Congress began to think about civil rights legislation. It was not until thousands demonstrated in the South that lunch counters and other public accommodations were integrated.”

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