Building the Civil Rights Movement on the backs of the Pullman Porters
Just a few years after the Civil War, the Chicago businessman George M. Pullman began hiring thousands of African American men - including many former slaves - to serve white passengers traveling across the country on his company’s luxury railroad sleeping cars.
While they were underpaid and overworked and endured constant racism on the job, the Pullman porters would eventually help fuel the Great Migration, shape a new Black middle class and launch the civil rights movement.
The Milam County Railroad Museum will be featuring an exhibit and program about the work of A. Phillip Randolph and the first Afro-American labor union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. These are the men and women that began the Civil Rights Movement by fighting for higher pay and better working conditions for Afro-American workers. The museum will also highlight The March on Washington Movement (MOWM), 1941–1946.
The public is invited to visit the museum weekly during the month of February on Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to enjoy the exhibit.
The program will take place on Saturday, Feb. 17, at 10 a.m. in the John and Frances Johnson Classroom located in the Milam County Railroad Museum.
The program will begin with background information by Museum Director Jamie Larson followed by a forty-five-minute video entitled “Rising from the Rails.”
The video highlight interviews with Pullman Porters and important Afro-American leaders that influenced the Civil Rights Movement in the 60’s.
We hope this exhibit and program will create a better understanding of the life and importance of the Pullman Porters, A. Phillip Randolph, and the hard and brave work by Afro-Americans to secure equality, a struggle that is not yet won.