Randolph, A. Philip


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Randolph, A. (Asa) Philip

(1889–1979) labor leader, social activist; born in Crescent City, Fla. Son of a minister, he worked at a variety of jobs while getting an education in Florida and then at City College of New York. He began his efforts on behalf of African-American laborers when, while working as a waiter on a coastal steamship, he organized a protest against their living conditions. In World War I he tried to unionize African-American shipyard workers in Virginia and elevator operators in New York City; in 1917 he founded the Messenger, a magazine initially designed to encourage African-American laborers to demand higher wages. After the war, he became more convinced than ever that unions would be the best way for African-Americans to improve their lot. In 1925 he founded the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and would serve as the president until 1968. A civil rights leader as well as a labor leader, he organized the March on Washington movement in 1941, which forced the government to set up the Fair Employment Practices Committee, and he is credited with pressing President Truman to integrate the armed forces in 1948. He was a principal organizer of the 1963 March on Washington.