Machinists Celebrate Black History Month

February is Black History Month, and the IAM is proud to recognize the valuable role African Americans play in our country and the labor movement. To begin, we are honoring the legacy of A. Philip Randolph, a staunch leader in the civil rights and labor movements.

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In 1925 Randolph organized and led the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, which was the first predominantly black labor union. The brotherhood took on the powerful railway industry and in 1937 won its first major contract with the Pullman Company. 

Randolph was also influential in changing the government’s discriminatory policies towards black workers in defense industries and federal bureaus. In 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an order barring such tactics and created the Fair Employment Practices Committee. Following World War II, Randolph founded the League for Nonviolent Civil Disobedience Against Military Segregation and successfully led efforts to ban segregation in the armed forces.

He was a director of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which brought more than 200,000 people to Washington, D.C. to demonstrate for civil rights policies for black Americans.

In 1978 the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters merged with the Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks, today known as the Transportation Communications Union (TCU). In 2012 TCU merged with the IAM.

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