Black History Month – Honoring A. Philip Randolph
February 20, 2021
During Black History Month, we have been focusing on past and present leaders in the movement to protect and expand the rights of African Americans and working families. As we continue to highlight and educate ourselves about important leaders of the past and those who are continuing the legacy of the strong leaders who laid the foundation on which we build today, we celebrate Mr. A. Philip Randolph.
A. Philip Randolph was one of the greatest black labor leaders in America's history and a key founder of the modern American Civil Rights movement. Throughout his long career, he consistently kept the interests of black workers at the forefront of the racial agenda. Whereas civil rights leaders such as W. E. B. Du Bois argued that the problem of the twentieth century was “the color line,” Randolph concluded that it was the question of the “common man.”
Mr. Randolph was a main figure in the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The march, most widely known for Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, propelled the Civil Rights Act. Being led by Mr. Randolph, this was a combined effort for the civil rights and labor movements. Moved by the success in the civil rights and labor movement arena, Mr. Randolph and Bayard Rustin founded the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) in 1965 to continue the struggle for social, political, and economic justice for all working Americans. APRI is an organization of black trade unionists that continues fighting today for racial equality and economic justice. Read Randolph's full biography from APRI here.
During Black History Month, and every month, it is incumbent on all of us to continue to take the time to honor the role and achievements of African American heroes in United States history. These icons, such as Mr. Randolph, and many others who were overlooked at the time and continue to be sidelined today, transformed our country and our labor movement and the world in which we all live today. Our Union is committed to continuing to build an inclusive, anti-racist workplace where every member feels safe, welcomed, and respected. AFA Black History Month pins are available from your Local Council. We encourage you to wear your AFA Black History Month pin in solidarity as we work to achieve these goals.