Remarks of Thomas Hart, Jr, President of Rail Forward and Member of the Board of Directors of the United States High Speed Rail Association, at the Federal Bar Association Luncheon at the Department of Transportation

WASHINGTON, DC – August 28, 2013

On the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington Rail Forward Salutes

Asa Philip Randolph

Gentle Warrior: Asa Philip Randolph (1889 - 1979)
The Architect of the 1963 March on Washington

  • He was called "the most dangerous Black in America" by segregationists.
  • In the 1940s he advanced the fight to ban discrimination in the armed forces by calling for a March on Washington in 1941.
  • He led 250,000 people in the historic 1963 March on Washington.
  • He spoke for all the dispossessed: Blacks, poor Whites, Puerto Ricans, Indians and Mexican Americans.
  • He advocated for equal wages and benefits for Black workers, particularly in the rail industry.
  • He organized the 1957-prayer pilgrimage for the civil rights bill.
  • He was President of the Institute, bearing his name, and President Emeritus of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the union he built.

As a social liberal associated with leftwing causes, in 1920 he began to concern himself with the issue of Blacks in the labor movement, Mr. Randolph had already begun his organization of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

In 1936, A. Philip Randolph was drafted as president of a new organization called the National Negro Congress. The NNC was made up of a number of groups, which planned to build a Black mass movement, by working with and through trade unions. Throughout the hard years of struggle to obtain dignity and decent treatment for porters, Mr. Randolph never forgot that there were other workers that also needed help. As one observer wrote ''he became a familiar and lonely figure on the floor of AFL-ClO conventions" in his role as champion of Blacks, women and disabled citizens.

These observations are shared by Anthony Foxx the new Secretary of Transportation. Speaking yesterday, the day before the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said transportation had played a major role in both dividing and uniting communities in America, and he framed efforts to improve the networks as a matter of racial equality.

"The infrastructure that we have today is actually infrastructure that was built over many generations and in many cases was a very visible example of the culture in which it was built," he told a largely Black audience at the A. Philip Randolph Institute's National Education Conference yesterday.Foxx said, "our transportation networks were built in a way that reflected the divisions in which they were created."

Let us remember and be inspired by the life of A. Philip Randolph who said:

"Salvation for a race, nation or class must come from within Freedom is never granted; it is won. Justice is never given; it is exacted. Freedom and justice must be struggled for by the oppressed of all lands and races, and the struggle must be continuous, for freedom is never a final act, but a continuing evolving process to higher and higher levels of human, social, economic, political, and religious relationships." -- A. Philip Randolph


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