<br><h3> Introduction </h3> When nearly a quarter of a million people, black and white, gathered on the National Mall in late August 1963, they brought to life the signature moment of A. Philip Randolph's long career. Having threatened such a demonstration in 1941 to protest employment discrimination during the Second World War, Randolph was happy to see his idea for a march on Washington resurrected as a mass demonstration of support for President John F. Kennedy's proposed civil rights bill. Indeed, in the aftermath of the civil rights campaign in Birmingham, Alabama, where high-compression water hoses and police dogs shocked the conscience of the nation, the time seemed ripe to push for such legislation. As the crowd gathered and made its way from the Washington Monument to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, chants of "pass that bill!" ushered forth, and the protest anthem "We Shall Overcome" gave voice to the undeniable spirit of common purpose that suffused the day. <p> However, few of those that participated in the march were aware of the building behind-the-scenes drama that threatened to mar the demonstration. John Lewis of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) planned to deliver a speech criticizing the Kennedy administration for its lack of civil rights enforcement in the South and calling the president's proposed civil rights bill "too little and too late." In the months and weeks leading up to the march, organizers had worked tirelessly to allay government concerns about rabble rousing and potential violence. For some, Lewis's remarks threatened to stir up the frustrations that brought so many to the nation's capital. When Bayard Rustin, one of the principal orchestrators of the march, asked him to change his remarks, Lewis adamantly refused. The opening speeches were well underway when A. Philip Randolph approached Lewis and his SNCC colleagues about the unresolved conflict. Randolph, too, asked Lewis to change his speech. The seventy-five-year-old veteran activist explained that "he had waited his whole life for this opportunity" and did not want to see it ruined by controversy. This personal appeal from the venerable civil rights stalwart shook Lewis's resolve. As the first speakers made their way to and from the podium, Lewis, Rustin, and Courtland Cox, another executive member of SNCC, huddled together in Lincoln's shadow and rewrote Lewis's speech. <p> Both march participants and historians of the era typically view the 1963 March on Washington as a triumphant moment for the civil rights movement. It was an equally triumphant moment for A. Philip Randolph. Throughout his career he had sought out mechanisms for illustrating the wide gulf between the principles of freedom and justice and the unfulfilled aspirations of the disempowered and disfranchised. His search led him to profound conclusions about the nature of genuine social justice, the interrelated character of issues of race and class, the effectiveness of interest group politics for racial minorities, and mass direct action. Though spearheaded primarily by others who set out to galvanize support for Kennedy's civil rights bill,2 the 1963 march ultimately drew on Randolph's ideas in each of these areas to move the nation toward fulfilling its democratic promises for all. For Randolph, who remained a vocal advocate for civil rights up to his death in May 1979, the March on Washington was a culminating achievement that succinctly employed all the various aspects of his social, political, and economic thinking. As such, it was a fitting capstone to a life devoted to social justice. <p> In the years between the end of the First World War and the Supreme Court's 1954 <i>Brown v. Board of Education</i> decision, A. Philip Randolph organized the nation's first all-black trade union, forced the American labor movement to take a hard look at its racial policies and practices, and secured two separate executive orders—one banning workplace discrimination in war industry jobs and the other desegregating the U.S. armed forces. Over the course of Randolph's long career as a socialist, journal editor, labor organizer, and civil rights activist, the theories he formulated became the primary basis of the civil rights protest movement of the 1950s and 1960s. His views on social justice, race and class, racial minorities and interest group politics, and mass direct action largely grew out of his overall life experiences. This study endeavors to understand how the forces that shaped Randolph's life also shaped his conception of race, class, and African Americans' struggle for equal justice. <p> When Randolph arrived in Harlem in 1911, it marked the beginning of a remarkable personal journey that influenced key events of the interwar years and beyond. In scrutinizing his novel understanding of the intersection of race and class, two movements that have often been at odds with each other, I attempt to present an analytical intellectual history that uses biography to illuminate the origins and evolution of central aspects of Randolph's thought and activism; I examine his contributions to the problems of race, class, civil rights, and the labor movement by connecting his unfolding ideas to specific influences and experiences in his life. Most decidedly not a straightforward biography, this book examines the development of Randolph's social and political thinking to create a new and different intellectual portrait of one of the most important figures in twentieth-century American social history. <p> In undertaking this examination, I have chosen to concentrate on Randolph's early life and career and elected not to include any detailed treatment of his activism in the 1950s and 1960s. I view his 1950s and 1960s civil rights activism as largely illustrative of his social, political, and economic thinking rather than formative to its development. It was in the interwar years—the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s—where the sharp contours of his ideas about social justice, race and class, interest group politics, and direct action took shape. The 1963 March on Washington is certainly an important component of Randolph's career, but for the purposes of my study it serves best as the quintessential example of how his social and political thinking fundamentally shaped African Americans' civil rights struggle. <p> Also, I have chosen to engage the issue of gender in terms of manhood and masculinity because this was the discourse that Randolph deployed in demanding social, political, and economic justice for African Americans. From his writings in the <i>Messenger</i> through his defense of the porters' right to bargain collectively and beyond, he adopted a civic rhetoric of manhood that harkened back to Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence. In this respect, he and prominent West Indian radicals like Hubert Harrison, Richard B. Moore, and Cyril Briggs helped to shape aspects of the Pan-African sentiment that emerged in Harlem in the 1920s. On occasion Randolph did indeed make special cases for or appeals to women, but these instances were not formative moments in his intellectual evolution. Rather, it was the language of manhood and masculinity that was prominent in Randolph's thinking about and articulation of genuine social justice. <p> My examination of Randolph engages many of the key themes outlined in several recent books on civil rights, citizenship, and African Americans and radical politics. Randolph's role in organizing the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters is well known. But by emphasizing his understanding of the porters' union as a template for effecting economic and social change for black workers, my study overlaps such books as Thomas J. Sugrue's <i>Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North</i> that broaden the discussion of African Americans' civil rights struggle beyond the Jim Crow South. It also complements conclusions outlined in Beth Tompkin Bates's <i>Pullman Porters and the Rise of Protest Politics in Black America, 1925–1945</i>, which examines the porters' role in the advent of mass politics and collective action as key components of African Americans' protest strategy. Randolph's view of economic opportunity as a consequential element for full inclusion in American society fits with new understandings of citizenship presented in such books as Nancy MacLean's <i>Freedom Is Not Enough: The Opening of the American Workplace</i>, Meg Jacobs's <i>Pocketbook Politics: Economic Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America</i>, and Lizabeth Cohen's <i>Consumers' Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America</i>. Finally, my discussion of Randolph and socialism complements Jeffrey Perry's <i>Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883–1918</i> and Joyce Moore Turner's <i>Caribbean Crusaders and the Harlem Renaissance</i>. Both scholars probe intersections between race, class, and radical politics among black intellectuals in the early twentieth century. <p> Randolph's pursuit of equal justice for African Americans led him to conclude that this required that all citizens, regardless of race, be afforded fair access to the economic, civic, social, and political benefits of modern society. Since all races and classes had contributed to humanity's collective development, Randolph argued, all were equally entitled to benefit from civilization's progress. In his view, genuine social justice required the apportionment of full citizenship rights, not by race or class, but rather by the degree to which individuals were willing to perform the civic duties of a faithful citizen. Unlike most socialist critics of industrial capitalism who focused primarily on the organization and ownership of society's productive capacity, Randolph increasingly insisted upon the institution of a managed system as a means of ensuring equal economic, civic, and political participation. <p> Underlying this notion of genuine social justice was a concept of an open, participatory democracy that is central to understanding Randolph's evolving view of the relationship between the state and its citizens. Beginning in the late 1920s with efforts to enlist federal agencies in support of Pullman porters and their fight for union recognition, Randolph began to outline a definition of citizenship rooted in the premise that all Americans, regardless of race, were entitled to certain basic rights that the government could act to protect but could not nullify. This view influenced aspects of his threatened 1941 march on Washington and was a key philosophical justification for his campaign against Jim Crow in the military in the 1950s. It also influenced his staunch anti-communism. He came to believe deeply that African Americans could achieve equality, freedom, and dignity only within the framework of an open, participatory democracy and viewed communist tactics of infiltration as a threat to this principle. As Randolph devised a vision of social justice that blended essential features of civic, social, and political rights with economic opportunity, he also worked out a notion of citizenship rooted in the open participation of all. <p> Randolph's view of genuine social justice also reflected an egalitarian outlook that further distinguished his critique of the American system from that of mainstream socialism. Even though he was sometimes a harsh critic of organized religion, Randolph still argued emphatically that "if the children of God are equal before Him, segregation of God's children on account of race, color, religion, national origin, or ancestry, is not only artificial but constitutes a rejection of the idea of the fatherhood of God and is, thus, sacrilegious." As such assertions became more central to his arguments against the social, political, and economic constrictions that relegated African Americans to second-class status, Randolph gave stronger voice to an egalitarian claim for equality that differed markedly from the conventional labor theory of value. Underscoring such ideas as the universal brotherhood of man and fatherhood of God, Randolph bolstered his conception of genuine social justice by investing it with religious and moral sanction. In forcefully asserting man's common humanity, he located this religious and moral appeal in a broader egalitarianism that gave an added dimension to his conception of social justice. <p> Randolph's framing of genuine social justice in egalitarian terms did not in any way distract him from recognizing the specific ways that race and class issues worked together to affect the lives of African Americans. Not only did African Americans face the basic class concerns that troubled all workers in the Depression era and beyond, but Randolph saw firsthand in organizing the porters' union that race still trumped class in corporate boardrooms and on the shop floor. He came to understand that racial discrimination operated as an additional obstacle that severely limited the effectiveness of strict class theory in addressing the needs and concerns of black workers. In fact, he would come to argue with increasing passion that race and class were inextricably linked for black workers. Even as the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters stood on the brink of victory in its fight for union recognition, Randolph began to articulate a broader political agenda that encouraged black workers to simultaneously pursue their general economic or class interests as well as their specific racial needs. <p> This dual race and class consciousness that became a more central feature of his point of view in the 1930s reflected Randolph's evolving conviction that there could be no social justice for African Americans without basic economic justice. This view partly explains his continued connection to the Socialist Party even as the racial realities of organizing black workers undercut key tenets of the party's strict class appeals. He was convinced that wholesale reform of industrial capitalism would be necessary if African Americans were ever to secure genuine social justice. But as the Brotherhood's struggle for union recognition made increasingly clear, race complicated class concerns for African Americans in special ways. Randolph looked to fashion a blended strategy of race and class consciousness precisely to address this dynamic. His growing belief that social justice and economic opportunity went hand in hand ultimately comprised the basis of his determination to reconcile race and class. It was putting this notion into practical action that compelled him to take up the fair employment issue that led to the creation of the Fair Employment Practice Committee in 1941. <p> Inherent to Randolph's view of the link between race and class was a sense that civil rights lacked meaningful social substance without real economic opportunity. From the mid-1930s on, he persistently argued that though equality was central to democracy, freedom, and justice, African Americans were destined to remain second-class citizens unless granted economic and educational equality as well. This emphasis on the economic basis of black freedom and equality further supported his contention that it was vitally important for African Americans to recognize and act on both their specific racial needs and general class interests. In building the porters' union, Randolph not only paid attention to how better labor organization might improve the specific conditions under which Pullman porters and maids worked, but he was equally concerned with using the Brotherhood as a platform for building a purposeful coalition between black and white workers behind progressive reform. From the late 1920s and 1930s through the 1960s, Randolph consistently worked to bridge the divide between African American civil rights and the American labor movement. <p> One of the consequences of the Pullman porters' long and drawn-out struggle for recognition was Randolph's growing understanding of the potential of pressure politics for improving African Americans' lives. The demographic transformations that affected the political landscapes of cities like New York and Chicago as a result of black migration north became even more significant as Roosevelt's New Deal coalition created new political opportunities for African Americans, labor unions, and progressive reformers. For Randolph and the porters, this was an especially important development. Through the middle and late 1930s, Congress routinely ignored or overlooked the needs of African Americans in drafting labor legislation that dramatically improved the position of unions in these years. Although he continued to lobby sympathetic congressmen on the need to include African Americans under these new laws, Randolph came to understand that African Americans fundamentally lacked the political muscle needed in the war of competing interests that shaped and passed bills in Congress. <p> <i>(Continues...)</i> <p> <!-- copyright notice --> <br></pre> <blockquote><hr noshade size='1'><font size='-2'> Excerpted from <b>A. Philip Randolph and the Struggle for Civil Rights</b> by <b>CORNELIUS L. BYNUM</b> Copyright © 2010 by Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. Excerpted by permission of UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS PRESS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.<br>Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.