A porter on a Pullman car, 1943. Image by © CORBIS
History classes in the U.S. – at least in Holly’s and my experience – focus much of their discussion of the civil rights movement on things African-Americans were not allowed to do before it happened. Most of the context relates to segregated restrooms, schools and bus seats, and on restrictions on voting. But there’s a whole other side to that story: the things that only African-Americans were allowed to do. After the abolition of slavery, whole industries hired exclusively African-American workers in order to maintain a sort of plantationesque veneer. This pattern continued to subjugate black people long after slavery was over.
Today we’re talking about one of those jobs, and the organization that helped make their lives better: the sleeping car porters and the union they formed in the 1920s. This union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, became an important force in the larger context of the civil rights movement.
Our listener mail is from John, who writes about our Pueblo Revolt episode.
For more knowledge: How the March On Washington Worked
Episode link: The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters
- Chateauvert, Melinda. “Marching Together: Women of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.” University of Illinois Press. 1998.
- Chicago Historical Society. “The Pullman Era.” 1999. http://www.chicagohs.org/history/pullman.html
- McWatt, Arthur C. “A Greater Victory: The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in St. Paul.” Minnesota Historical Society. Minnesota History. Spring 1997.
- National Museum of American History. “Lives on the Railroad.” http://amhistory.si.edu/onthemove/exhibition/exhibition_9_6.html
- OurDocuments.gov: “Executive Order 8802: Prohibition of Discrimination in the Defense Industry (1941).” http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=72
- Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum. “The Evolution & History of the Union.” http://www.aphiliprandolphmuseum.com/evo_history.html
- Smith, Eric R. “Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.” Encyclopedia of Chicago. 2005. http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/174.html
- Tye, Larry. “Rising from the Rails: Pullman Porters and the Making of the Black Middle Class.” Henry Holt and Company. New York. 2004.
- Wormser, Richard. “A. Philip Randolph.” The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow. PBS. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/jimcrow/stories_people_randolph.html
- Wormser, Richard. “The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.” The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow. PBS. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/jimcrow/stories_org_brother.html
- WWTW. “Pullman Porters: from Servitude to Civil Rights.” http://www.wttw.com/main.taf?p=1,7,1,1,41
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