A. Philip Randolph

Crescent City, FL | 1889 - 1979

Labor leader and social activist A. Philip Randolph was born April 15, 1889, in Crescent City, Florida. During World War I, Randolph tried to unionize African-American shipyard workers in Virginia and elevator operators in New York City, and founded a magazine designed to encourage African-American laborers to demand higher wages. After graduating from Bethune Cookman, one of the first institutions of higher education for blacks in the country, Randolph moved to the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, where he studied English literature and sociology at City College. In 1912, Randolph founded an employment agency called the Brotherhood of Labor with Chandler Owen, as a means of organizing black workers. In 1917, Randolph and his wife founded a political magazine, The Messenger, and began publishing articles calling for the inclusion of more blacks in the armed forces and war industry, and demanding higher wages. In 1925, Randolph founded the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, seeking to gain the union’s official inclusion in the American Federation of Labor. After World War II, Randolph organized the League for Nonviolent Civil Disobedience Against Military Segregation. In 1963, Randolph was a principal organizer of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, sharing the podium with Martin Luther King Jr. Randolph was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Soon after, he founded the A. Philip Randolph Institute, an organization aimed at studying the causes of poverty.