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The Role of A. Philip Randolph in African American Culture

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Without any doubt, the twentieth century is famous for the times when the racial values and attitudes to discriminated people in the USA were considerably changed due to persistent work of the leading black protest leader Asa Philip Randolph. This leader was an editor of the Messenger (a radical Socialist journal), an organizer of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, and a prominent figure during the Marches on Washington.

According to Randolph’s bibliography, he lived in Crescent City, Florida. His family strictly adhered to religious views, since his father, Reverend James William, an American Didactic Episcopalian minister and his mother, Elizabeth Robinson Randolph, deeply kept religious beliefs. It is generally known that he attended the Cookman Institute, the first high school for African Americans in Florida, where he became a top student. In 1911 Randolph lived in New York City where he pursued his studies at City College. This year was a turning point in Randolph’s political career, since he became immersed in a Socialist and radical milieu. Furthermore, he was recognized as one of Harlem’s best street corner orators. During the period of the Harlem Renaissance (“New Negro Movement”), in 1917 Randolph began to publish the Messenger with Chandler Owen. In the 1920s the Messenger was identified as the most radical magazine in the USA that advocated socialistic values and the organization of the working classes, and criticized racial discrimination concerning black people. Furthermore, this magazine was determined as the most powerful manipulative mass median tool that highly encouraged African Americans to assert their rights and to strike against American political system (Patterson, 16).

Indisputably, A. Philip Randolph is a pivotal figure in African American culture, since in 1925 he established the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. It is generally true that during twelve years, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters struggled with the racism in the Pullman Company. The struggle for the recognition of African American rights included a three-stage fight, such as battle against the Pullman Company, the American Federation of Labor, and the anti-union of Pullman company. Basically, during the existence of the BSCP Randolph was recognized as the most professional spokesman for black aspirations. He struggled for the legal equality of blacks and for the economic rights of black workers. In 1927 the porters, under Randolph’s supervision, gained collective bargaining rights from the Pullman Company. These changes significantly increased the wages for the portrs that started from $810 per annum. August 25, 1935 is a remarkable date in American history, since at that time the blacks seriously opposed the whites and gained national recognition. Finally, in 1937 Randolph and the BSCP signed the first contract between a company and black American workers that endowed the equal rights for black and white workers. 

Furthermore, at the late 1930s Randolph was a president of the broad front coalition, commonly known as the National Negro Congress. Since the middle of the 1930s, Randolph persistently tried to elucidate the question of racist practices in the American Federation of Labor. In 1955 he served in the American Federation of Labor and Committee on Industrial Organization. Furthermore, in 1959 Randolph was a founder and president of the Negro American Labor Council, and an organizer of black trade the main aim of which was to extend the fight against racist discrimination in the House of Labor. 

A. Philip Randolph greatly struggled against segregation in the federal government in 1941. At that time, the March on Washington Movement was conducted, which significantly influenced the establishment of the wartime Fair Employment Practices Committee. Moreover, in 1941 Randolph threatened President Roosevelt with an uncommonly massive demonstration comprised of 125,000 marching blacks in the Nation’s Capital, if the President refused to provide lucrative war employment for all black Americans. Consequently, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was forced to sign an executive order 8802 prohibiting discrimination (Herbert, 54). Another vital historical turning point during the March on Washington Movement was the establishment of the National Negro Committee that was renamed to National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1942. It is vital to point out that during the Progressive Era, the majority of racial rights were disregarded (Sage, 4). However, the establishment of the NAAC was identified as the first core principal of the rapid improvement of equality and human rights protection in the USA. The NAACP is the basis legal foundation that protects economic, educational, national, social, and political equality of human rights, in spite of their ethnicity. Until nowadays, this organization has significantly improved the rights of Afro-American population, changed the culture of ethnic relations, protected vulnerable people from race discrimination, provided a new legislation system against hate crime, and implemented tolerance to cultural diversity in the USA.

Undoubtedly, the role of Randolph in African American Culture is considerablle, since he helped African American to gain their rights and to get jobs. For instance, in 1948 he threatened the U.S. government to use civil disobedience in order to suppress segregation in the Armed Forces. At that time, Randolph issued his second threat to seize Washington with 125, 00 black protesters. It is evident that Randolph clearly realized that the segregated Armed Services were a main obstacle to black advancement and thus had to be destroyed.

Moreover, in 1962, Randolph organized the American Negro Leadership Conference on Africa with Martin Luther King. Its main purpose was to adjust and to coordinate relations between Negro Americans and the new Africa. During the conference, Randolph pointed out that the freedom, independence and human rights of the African people are the most vital things for African citizens. Moreover, at the 1962 conference, Randolph and his supporters examined a question about U.S. political and economic policies toward the continent. The conferees discussed the issue concerning racial policies in southern Africa and the Nigeria-Biafra civil war. Moreover, in 1963 Randolph organized a meeting in New York City at the Commodore Hotel, where the six black leaders of the “Big Six”, such as Roy Wilkins, Jr., James Farmer, John Lewis, Martin Luther King, and Whitney Young considered the vitality a powerful and global “March on Washington for Peace, Freedom and Jobs”. This March is determined as the most dramatic and compelling March in the nation’s history that was organized in order to gain civil rights for African American people. On the one hand, the March considerably ameliorated social and economic changes during the 20th century. On the other hand, this March significantly precipitated the adoption of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (Cwiklik, 32).

Indisputably, A. Philip Randolph was a prominent strategist during the Second

World War, since he created various coalitions with other groups on behalf of civil rights, labor, and civil liberties. Furthermore, he struggled against the Communist regime. Finally, he put efforts in order to remove racial discrimination completely in the trade union movement.

All in all, Asa Philip Randolph is recognized as a prominent opponent to racial segregation and social injustices heaped on African Americans. Moreover, he was the greatest African American trade unionist who unremittingly struggled for civil rights and racial equality.  Randolph fought against the federal government in order to open jobs in the civilian and the military sectors. 

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