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Saluting A. Philip Randolph, Workers' Champion

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Saluting A. Philip Randolph, Workers' Champion

Saluting A. Philip Randolph, Workers' Champion

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News.

We're continuing our Black History Month tribute. We've invited members of the TELL ME MORE staff, some of our guests and our NPR colleagues to share stories about the figure or event from black history that they most admire. Today, we spotlight a labor organizer.

KIMBERLY JONES: I'm Kimberly Jones, technical director for TELL ME MORE. And an African-American whom I greatly admire is A. Philip Randolph, a champion for labor equality. Asa Philip Randolph started his career as an actor in Harlem. But he soon noticed unfair work conditions for blacks and saw the need to organize workers in various industries.

By the mid-1920s, he had organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, a large union representing black railroad workers. His influence stretched to the White House with the signing of the Fair Employment Act of 1941. And he was a key organizer of the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Here he is addressing the National Press Club just days before that march.

Mr. ASA PHILIP RANDOLPH (Labor Organizer, Civil Rights Leader): Negroes want the same things that white citizens possess, all of their rights. They want complete equality and no force under the sun can stem and block and stop this civil rights revolution, which is now under way.

JONES: Perhaps the diversity of the modern workplace is sometimes taken for granted. But when I think about the life and work of A. Philip Randolph, I am reminded that the rights I now enjoy exist because of his devotion to a great cause.

MARTIN: That was Kimberly Jones, our technical director in the control room most days, saluting labor organizer and civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph.

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