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A. Philip Randolph - Civil Rights & Labor Leader

Famous Jacksonville Residents


The works of A. Philip Randolph demonstrate true strength, determination and perseverance of human rights throughout the 20th century. Randolph was involved with many notable contributions to the Civil Rights movement, but one must appreciate his dedication to challenging current labor laws and defending the rights of the disenfranchised. With the 50th anniversary of the infamous march on Washington D.C. and the upcoming Labor Day weekend, people must appreciate the contributions of the Jacksonville native Asa Philip Randolph as one of the most important figures to arise in Jacksonville's history.

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A. Philip Randolph was the son of an AME minister, moving to an established African American community in Jacksonville when he was a boy in 1891. By 1911, Randolph headed north to Harlem and became heavily involved the struggle for equality for Black Americans. By 1919, Randolph was regarded as "one of the most dangerous black men in America" by the US Attorney General. Randolph focused his early civil rights career around advocating jobs and money for African Americans. He believed these would be the stepping stones for equality. Randolph desired African Americans take care of family and home first with jobs, then the fight would continue for better wages or opportunities within the work force.

One of A Philip Randolph's earliest contributions as a leader of labor was the victory to stop discrimination in the work force. His message spread throughout the United States and by 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called for fair employment practices and an end to discrimination in defense plant careers. Randolph was only the leader of the first predominately black labor union the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, but had effectively made progress for African American workers. He continued his labor efforts to end discrimination in the armed forces and civil service jobs outlawing segregation.

A Philip Randolph was at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s. Although he wasn't very successful in politics, Randolph used his passion for equality to organize some of the greatest events in Civil Rights history. Randolph organized the prayer pilgrimage for the civil rights bill in 1957 and by 1958 Randolph began the fight for integration in schools. The largest triumph of A. Philip Randolph during the Civil Rights Movement was the 1963 march on Washington D.C. Philip successfully organized 250,000 Americans to march on the capital where Dr. Martin Luther King gave the "I Have a Dream" speech. The efforts and foundation A. Philip Randolph produced paved the way for many other civil rights and labor victories throughout the 1960s.

A. Philip Randolph's contributions to society extended further than the black community. His efforts spoke for all people dispossessed by race, gender or religion. By never allowing himself to be deterred by antagonist to his vision, he continued to push for what he believed would bring equality to all Americans. Randolph's battle did not go without much resistance and the occasional defeat, but each attempt at making sure every man was able to earn fair wages planted seeds towards a better future. A. Philip Randolph was awarded the Humanist award in 1970 and in 1974 given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Lyndon B. Johnson. A. Philip Randolph passed away at age 90 in 1979; nevertheless his efforts for civil and labor rights are appreciated by American citizens today.

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