Asa Philip Randolph is well known for organizing labor power as well as for leading civil rights movement. 1889 born Randolph was an ardent spokesperson of non violent activism against the American racism which led the improvement of the position of blacks in 20th centaury. He firmly believed that the black progress could be achieved through black working class. He always raised the voice for social justice which paved the way to his political activism. From the college days, he began his mission. When he was in college, he started an employment agency with fellow student Chandler Owen, for those blacks who arrived in New York from South.
After graduation, with the influence of W. E. B. Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk, Randolph joined the socialist party and started addressing the crowd about socialism and importance of militant class consciousness. In 1917 he published the first issue of the magazine “messenger’ which was later termed as “one of the most brilliantly edited magazines in the history of American Negro journalism. ” In 1925, he formed an organization of Brotherhood of sleeping car porters in the wake of refusal of membership of blacks by American Federation Labor .
The organization was consisting of those black porters worked for Pullman Company. The Pullman an employer of blacks denied the organization of the blacks in earlier period. There was a case of firing the employees who marched for wage increase and improve working conditions. Randolph as the president of Brotherhood of sleeping car porters laid down a unrelenting and dignified negotiation meetings with Pullman authorities which led the sanction of the first union of black, Brotherhood of sleeping car porters and subsequent wage increase of $2 miilion.
Moreover Randolph could achieve a contract of railroad with this particular company in 1937. Randolph moved forward with the motto of complete equality and economic opportunity for blacks’ . He explained his activities as “the idea of separatism is harkening to the past and it is undesirable even if it could be realized, because the progess of mankind has been based upon contact and association, upon social, intellectual and cultural contact. ” (Ebony magazine, 1970)(1) A year after the successful negation with Pullman co.
Randolph initiated an action to end the employment discrimination against blacks in the federal government . He put pressure on the President Franklin D. Roosewelt in this matter. Moreover he analyzed the recruitment process of US military for World War II to put an end to racial discrimination. Since all the efforts regarding federal and military hiring turned in vain, he carried out the famous 1941 march to Washington with 50thousand blacks. Consequently Roosevelt issued an order banning discrimination in the defense ministry.
Even though the committee established for improving the condition of the blacks, it could not meet the effective means of enacting it. The racial equality had continuously been violated. This pulled Randolph to move ahead with his civil right movement.
He founded the League for Nonviolent Civil Disobedience against Military Segregation. He warned the Congressional committee that the black and white youth would be insisted to boycott the military if the condition of racial inequality mitigated. . The march on Washington went on. In 1942, at Detroit conference he called for the strategy and tactics of the people of India with mass civil disobedience and non-cooperation. In 1943, he insisted the delegates to adopt the policy of non-violent good-will direct action.
He challenged President Harry Truman to take an effective action in this regard. Finally Truman issued another order to desegregate the military. In 1950’s and 1960’s also Randolph was actively participated in civil rights movement against the racial discrimination. Through march on Washington movement and the civil disobedience movement to end the segregation in military ,Randolph insisted the new generation of civil right activists that the violent protests are no longer a suitable way to attain the goal.
It never mobilizes the public pressure. The movement recognized him by referring the chair of the March on Washington in which Martin Luther King Jr. rendered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. In 1955, Randolph was elected as a vice president of the AFL-CIO. Asa Philip Randolph was a notable reformer. His vision and commitment is always inspiration for the young generation. Nobody can deny the fact that Randolph’s firm and peaceful strategic ideas are the major factor which ultimately led success of his mission.