Item no. 10001
|Collection: Bread & Roses|
Painting by Marshall Arisman, inspired by a quote from A. Philip Randolph, on a poster from the Bread and Roses Images of Labor poster series.
The quote reads: "The essence of trade unionism is social uplift. The labor movement has been the haven for the dispossessed, the despised, the neglected, the downtrodden, the poor."
A. Philip Randolph (1889-1979) led an organizational life that was an accurate reflection of this statement. After an active career as a leader of the socialist movement in Harlem, he went on to organize elevator operators, and to become the first president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.
Randolph was an important spokesman for African Americans in the civil rights movement and the labor movement, in a career that spanned most of the century. He first attracted attention in New York with his eloquent speeches urging blacks not to fight in World War I.
When the U.S. entered World War II, Randolph concentrated his efforts on breaking down employment barriers for African Americans in the booming defense industries. His 1942 threat to lead thousands of Negroes in a March on Washington prompted President Franklin D. Roosevelt to establish the Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC), the first such federal agency in our nation's history. After World War II, in 1963, Randolph did lead a march on Washington, which provided the setting for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s immortal "I Have a Dream" speech.
Image from the Images of Labor Collection, Bread and Roses, series, art by Marshall Arisman.