Asa Philip Randolph

Feb. 19, 2005, midnight | By Feza Kikaya | 15 years, 8 months ago

Photo: Asa Philip Randolph, labor and civil rights leader.

Immediately following the labor movement of the early twentieth century, Asa Philip Randolph became a prominent figure in the fight for civil rights. He was raised in Crescent City, Florida, but moved to New York City in 1911 and studied at City College while working during the day. He was extremely interested in the works of economic and political writers such as Marx and through such works, believed that the black working class was the hope for black progress.

In 1917, Randolph started "The Messenger" with his friend Chandler Owen and through the publication, criticized key prominent figures such as President Woodrow Wilson and Booker T. Washington. In 1925, Randolph became an organizer of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, a majority black group which was able to win a contract with a railroad company in 1937. This achievement made Randolph a key figure in the labor movement, and soon after, he headed the National Negro Congress but resigned in 1940 after learning of the group's Communist affiliation. In 1941, he headed the March on Washington and successfully influenced President Franklin Roosevelt to ban discrimination in defense industries. Randolph's fight also led to President Harry Truman's desegregation of the army.

Throughout his life, Randolph fought against discrimination for the black working class, and his background in diverse literature enabled him to approach various issues with a certain rationality that distinguished his efforts from those of the southern civil rights movement.

Information has been compiled from The Reader's Companion to American History.

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Feza Kikaya. Feza Kikaya is finally a SENIOR in the CAP program at Blair. She enjoys driving, hanging out with friends and laughing. Most importantly, Feza is counting down the days to graduation so she can begin a new chapter of her life in college. Her favorite … More »

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