A. Philip Randolph: “Call to Negro America to March on Washington”

(1941)

In the May 1941 issue of Black Worker, A. Philip Randolph, a prominent civil rights leader in his capacity as president of the National Negro Congress and head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters labor union, issued a “Call to Negro America to March on Washington“ to demand an end to discrimination in the defense industry and in the military. His call, made in cooperation with the civil rights leaders Bayard Rustin and A. J. Muste, initiated the March on Washington Movement, which lasted until 1947. This movement influenced future civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., who joined with Randolph in 1963 to organize the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (where King made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech). Randolph’s “call to Negro America” took place in the context of America’s transition from the Great Depression of the 1930s to the wartime economy that would employ millions of industrial workers during World War II.

Ultimately, the march...

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Pullman porter making up a berth on the "Capitol Limited" (Library of Congress)

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