A. Philip Randolph set a standard in the early stages of the Civil Rights Movement, inspiring other great leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr.
Randolph’s original March On Washington Movement (MOWM) took shape in the Spring of 1941, getting the attention of President Franklin D. Roosevelt who was forced to meet Randolph’s demands.
Not to be confused with the 1963 March On Washington, the 1941 march had similar aims of promoting fairness and equality for Black American workers. Segregation, rampant racism and other roadblocks stood in the way of African-American prosperity. Randolph and others saw the contradiction in America battling the racist Nazi soldiers in World War II, bristling at the fact Blacks were barred from opportunities at home because of their race.
In fact, White workers in the early stages of the War benefited from huge government-funded contracts working in defense plants. Black workers, even those with proven skills, were shut out of those jobs and told they could get jobs as janitors instead.
Randolph’s skills as an organizer were formed after he became the head of the first predominately Black labor union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, in 1925. Randolph applied his organizing skills, stressing the importance of the movement being an “All-Negro” affair without any assistance or funding from White sources.