Amtrak is sponsoring a wreath-laying ceremony today at the A. Philip Randolph statue at Washington Union Station as part of activities for the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington.
The A. Philip Randolph Institute, a Washington, DC, based organization that supports civil rights, anti-discrimination, progressive tax politics and universal, affordable healthcare, will host the event in the East Hall at 3:30 p.m. The ceremony will honor Randolph, who organized the first black union for Pullman Porters, and as a civil rights leader, who, along with others, organized the March on Washington.
The Pullman Company, founded by George Pullman, manufactured railroad cars from the mid-1800s into the 20th Century and developed sleeping cars that bore the company’s name, Pullman cars. The Pullman Company hired blacks to work as porters on board their trains, and these porters became renowned for their outstanding service. Pullman Porters, as they came to be known, were organized into the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters under the leadership of Randolph in 1925. The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was the first labor union led by blacks to receive a charter in the American Federation of Labor.
The statue of Randolph stands in his honor on the concourse of Washington Union Station. Amtrak named one of its sleeping cars, Superliner II Deluxe Sleeper 32503, the “A. Philip Randolph” in his honor.
Passenger trains played a pivotal role in America’s history. During the Great Migration of the early 1900s, blacks left the rural South aboard passenger trains to the Northeast and other regions of the country in search of better wages and job opportunities.