August 28, 2013

Amtrak commemorates the March on Washington

Amtrak, along with the A. Philip Randolph Institute, hosted a wreath-laying ceremony earlier this week at the A. Philip Randolph statue at Washington Union Station to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

Randolph was a leader of the civil rights march and also formed the first African-American labor union for the Pullman Porters.

“As we pause to recognize the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, an important moment in history, we also remember Mr. Randolph’s fight for the rights of others that inspired him to be the voice of the Pullman Porters,” said Amtrak President/CEO Joe Boardman. “Ultimately, his actions as a civil rights advocate helped to shape America's railroad system.”

The Pullman Co., 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 Co. hired African-Americans to work as porters on board its 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 union led by African-Americans to receive a charter in the American Federation of Labor.

Amtrak also named one of its sleeping cars, Superliner II Deluxe Sleeper No. 32503, the “A. Philip Randolph” in his honor.

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