Black Ancestors : THE PULLMAN PORTERS & A. PHILLIP RANDOLPH

Discussion in 'Honoring Black Ancestors' started by Isaiah, Jun 2, 2005.

  1. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    In the 1920's the Pullman Company employed more Black workers than any other U.S corporation. George Pullman had started his Pullman Porter Palace Company right after the civil war and provided a standard for luxurious travel. Beginning in 1867, George Pullman filled his earliest staff from the genteel servants of the Plantation south. Working as a Pullman porter offered opportunity for employment, however, the stability of their employment was always on shaky ground.


    The early porters worked graciously receiving passengers, carrying their luggage, making up their rooms, serving beverages and food, keeping the guests happy and making themselves available at all hours during the day or night. These men did their job so well they became known as the "Ambassadors of Hospitality.""Seventy years later, the gratitude had worn thin. the new generation of free-born, more informed porters was not satisfied with the Pullman Company's long hours, low wages, and unfair company policies. their smiles changed to pleas in the beginning, then shouts of protest.

    FOR MORE, CLICK ON THE WEBSITE BELOW...

    http://northbysouth.kenyon.edu/2000/Fraternal/pullman1.htm

    Peace!
    Isaiah
     
  2. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    More on the Pullman Porters...
    =========================================================
    Pullman Porters' Stories Tell of Hard Work, Sacrifice that Helped Shape Black America
    Nancy Beardsley
    Washington

    It's been more than three decades since the last of the Pullman porters rode America's trains, but the men who toiled in the nation's most popular sleeping cars have left their mark on everything from labor unions to the civil rights movement. Larry Tye tells their story in his new book Rising from the Rails: Pullman Porters and the Making of the Black Middle Class.

    From the late 19th century to the mid-20th, everyone from middle class Americans to movie stars and presidents traveled long distances by train. Pullman porters worked nearly round the clock to care for them all. And in times when many black and white Americans still lived separate lives, porters were an important link between races and regions.

    "Just by their very presence, these elegant men, clearly more learned than people in small towns, represented what life in the North might mean," says Larry Tye.

    In Rising from the Rails, Larry Tye describes what Pullman porters symbolized to black America.

    "They were the eyes and ears across the country for the civil rights leaders," he explains. "And in the area of popular culture they did it even more. They would take newly minted jazz albums in Chicago and New York and resell them in hamlets across the country. And they would take from these small towns the great blues traditions and bring them to Duke Ellington or Louis Armstrong or other people who rode the trains and tell them about this."

    Pullman porters were also seen as people moving up in the world. Paul Robeson starred as a Pullman porter in the 1933 film version of Eugene O'Neill's play, The Emperor Jones. He returns home with extravagant boasts of seeing the U.S. president.

    "And he comes right up to my car, and he says just as natural, 'Well, Brutus, you sure is much of a man, and I for one wants to compliment you on landing the job,'" said Robeson in the role.

    In reality, says Larry Tye, landing a job as a Pullman porter did mean a chance for advancement.

    "They picked up stock tips and they'd invest in the stock market and some of them would make a killing," he says. "They'd pick up newspapers and books that passengers left behind and they'd read them and absorb them. Mostly they picked up the lessons of how white America became so successful, the importance of education, the importance of saving their money, and they'd use those lessons in teaching their kids and their grandkids."

    The job was also an opportunity to see the world while earning a steady income. Philip Henry Logan was a porter for nearly 30 years. He says he never had a better job.

    "You met a lot of people. You went a lot of places," recalls Mr. Henry. "We'd go all the way up into Canada, all the way to Chicago, New York. Every day was a different day. I thought the world came to an end when the Pullman company went out of business."

    But the job was also demanding. The tradition of hiring black men as Pullman porters dates back to the American Civil War era of the 1860s. George Pullman had begun designing lavish new sleeping cars for American trains.

    "And who better to provide the ultimate in service than just-freed slaves? They came cheap," says Mr. Tye. "They'd work up to 400 hours a month. But most importantly, anything a passenger asked, they were there to provide it, no questions asked."

    Pullman porters had to spend weeks or even months at a time away from home, performing the same tasks again and again.

    "Perpetually making beds, perpetually watching kids, shining shoes, dusting jackets, cleaning bathrooms - on a general day they were working 20-21 hours a day," he adds. "They were insured by their contract a three to four hour sleeping break, but that sleep was supposed to happen in the men's smoking room behind a thin curtain on a ratty old couch. If somebody came in to have a smoke during the night, to use the facilities, have a poker game or a conversation, forget the three hours sleep."

    Porters relied on tips for much of their income, and that meant putting up with virtually any demand or indignity. They especially resented being called George - a reference to company founder George Pullman that dated back to the practice of calling slaves by their masters' names. But that would all change in 1935. After a 12-year battle, a group led by labor activist A. Philip Randolph established what's become known as America's first successful black trade union.

    =========================================================



    http://usinfo.state.gov/usa/blackhis/voa090204.htm
     
  3. Sun Ship

    Sun Ship Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Excellent Post !!!!

    The movie 10,000 Men Named George, with Andre Braugher, Charles S. Dutton, Mario Van Peebles and Brock Peters, directed by Robert Townsend is an excellent movie to rent or buy, it's centered around the organization of the Pullman's Porters Union. (all Black Pullman Porters were called George after George Pullman) Black Folks, this movie is a must see for you and your Children!!!
     
  4. Sekhemu

    Sekhemu Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Once again, thank you Isaiah for posting such an important piece of our history.
     
  5. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Brother Sun, wow, I had no idea there was such a movie done on the Pullman Porters! I'm gone definitely look around for the DVD on that piece... Yes sir!
    Oh, and thank you a million for the info on African Family Genealogies... Looks like I got my work cut out for me...(smile!)

    Sekhemu, just doin' mah duty, brother... I recently heard the writer of this book over the airwaves of WBAI, and the interview was so powerful and moving, I wanted to look up some info on these gentlemen, and share it with the Destee family...

    Peace!
    Isaiah
     
  6. HODEE

    HODEE Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Great post. I visited the train station in Sacramento. I saw some pullman porter cabs and statues of black pullman porters they had on exhibit. Learned a lot about the train and railroad and it's history. For me my wife and kids it was a great train day!

    I saw that movie Sun Ship. It is a good one.
     
  7. OldSoul

    OldSoul Permanent Black Man PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Pullman Porter Museum

    There is a museum dedicated to A Philip Randolph and the Pullman Porters in Chicago. Here's the website link: A Philip Randolph Museum

    An excerpt from the history on the website:
    The Pullman Porters organized and founded the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in 1925. The BSCP was the very first African-American labor union to sign a collective bargaining agreement with a major U.S. corporation. A. Philip Randolph was the determined, dedicated, and articulate president of this union who fought to improve the working conditions and pay for the Pullman Porters.
    The porters had tried to organize since the begining of the century. The wages and working conditions were below average for decades. For example, the porters were required to work 400 hours per month or 11,000 miles—whichever occurred first to receive full pay. Porters depended on the passengers' tips in order to earn a decent level of pay. Typically, the porters' tips were more than their monthly salary earned from the Pullman Company. After many years of suffering these types of conditions, the porters united with A. Philip Randolph as their leader. Finally, having endured threats from the Pullman Company such as job loss and harassment, the BSCP forced the company to the bargaining table. On August 25, 1937, after 12 years of battle, the BSCP was recognized as the official union of the Pullman Porters.
    Protected by the union, the job of a Pullman Porter was one of economic stability and held high social prestige in the African-American community. A. Philip Randolph utilized the power of the labor union and the unity that it represented to demand significant social changes for African-Americans nationally. The museum's exhibits tell the story of the power of unity, leadership, action, organization, and determination. This story is one of ordinary men who did extraordinary things. A. Philip Randolph and the members of the BSCP understood the power of collective work and community involvement. They improved the quality of life for themselves and made sure that their efforts improved the lives of those who were to follow. They worked together to fight many battles and they won many victories for African-American people. They demonstrated and personified the meaning of the word brotherhood. These African-American men were American heroes....
     
  8. $$RICH$$

    $$RICH$$ Lyon King Admin. STAFF

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    it's indeed a must see movie .....
    and for the next four decades A .Phillip Randolph carried forward
    his fight for equality and in 1963 commemorating the 100th anniverasy
    of the Emancipation proclamation, Randolph initiated the march on
    washington for jobs and freedom, it was at that gathering when young
    Martin Luther King jr. Delivered his ( I HAD A DREAM ) speech and
    Randolph passed the torch to a new generation of leaders in the fight for
    civil rights ......i honor brutha Randolph & Milton webster

    Our History is full of greatness and men and women from the deep struggle
     
  9. $$RICH$$

    $$RICH$$ Lyon King Admin. STAFF

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    I had to watch this film again and it had me thinking how we have change
     
  10. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

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    [​IMG]

    http://www.amazon.com/000-Black-Men-Named-George/dp/B00009AV7T
     
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