Asa Philip Randolph (April 15, 1889 – May 16, 1979) was a leader in the African American civil-rights movement, and the American labor movement. He organized marches on Washington DC that led to integration in war industries during World War II, integration in the armed forces at the end of the 1940’s, and the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He was named Humanist of the Year in 1970 by the American Humanist Association and he signed on to the Humanist Manifesto II in 1973.
Randolph helped organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters union in 1925 which was made up of African Americans in the only high profile job they could hold during the Jim Crow era. He served in the union and in the AFL-CIO until his retirement in 1968.
He organized several marches on Washington for more rights for African Americans. The first in 1941 was canceled after President Roosevelt issued the Fair Employment Act that integrated defense plants. The 2nd one organized also was not held when President Truman integrated the armed forces in 1948. The 3rd, the only one that led to an actual march, was in 1963. It was the one where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I have a Dream” speech. That march led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
While a Vice President, he worked to get the AFL-CIO to back racial integration in the organization and the workers they represented.
A. Philip Randolph’s religious beliefs are a matter of some debate. Some say he was an atheist while others say he was a liberal Protestant but he was a Humanist. He signed onto the Humanist Manifesto II in 1973 and was named Humanist of the Year in 1970.
A. Philip Randolph Quotes:
“Our aim is to appeal to reason, to lift our pens above the cringing demagogy of our times, and above the cheap peanut politics of the old reactionary negro leaders. Patriotism has no appeal to us; justice has. Party has no weight to us; principle has. Loyalty is meaningless; it depends on what one is loyal to. Prayer is not one of our remedies; it depends on what one is praying for. We consider prayer nothing more than a fervent wish; consequently the merit and worth of a prayer depend upon what the fervent wish is.”
“A community is democratic only when the humblest and weakest person can enjoy the highest civil, economic, and social rights that the biggest and most powerful possess.”
“Salvation for a race, nation or class must come from within. Freedom is never granted; it is won. Justice is never given; it is exacted.”