A. Philip Randolph, pioneer of the civil rights movement by Paula F. Pfeffer

By Paula F. Pfeffer

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The students were also intrigued by the man, yet only in rare instances had they heard of him prior to taking my class. Gerda Lerner has pointed out that depriving women of their history is equivalent to the rape of the mind. Obviously, the same holds true for Afro-Americans. It is with the hope of helping to prevent such an assault in the future that this book is offered. I had the good fortune of meeting A. Philip Randolph in 1973 and again in 1976 while he was living in a project erected by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union in New York City.

I therefore examine Randolph's various movements in order to explore the nature of the methods he employed, the types of coalitions he attempted to forge, and the constraints placed on his leadership by both his followers' poverty and the racism of the dominant white community. A "different drummer," Randolph was a unique black leader on several counts: He came to prominence through the labor movement, a nontraditional path for Afro-American spokesmen; he adhered to Socialist economic doctrines rather than traditional American capitalist theory; he fused a labor orientation with militancy on racial issues; he popularized the use of mass, nonviolent civil disobedience; and he more nearly resembled a Shakespearean actor than a labor leader in diction and bearing.

Randolph to permit me access to his private files, without which this book could not have been written. I can only hope that if alive today she, as well as he, would be pleased with the result. Perhaps the greatest debt an author incurs is to the manuscript cura- Page xii tors of the various research libraries utilized along the way. In my case, grateful thanks go to Archie Motley of the Chicago Historical Society. His knowledge of the collections is unsurpassed, and his assistance is legendary.

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