“Pfeffer does an admirable job of resituating Randolph, of explaining his role as a civil rights leader, and placing him in the central events of the time. . . . The result is the reestablishment of Randolph . . . in twentieth-century American history.”—Reviews in American History
Scholars of the civil rights movement and twentieth-century African American history traditionally refer to Asa Philip Randolph as the organizer of the first all-black labor union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Paula Pfeffer’s aim in this detailed and insightful biography, however, is “to demonstrate that Randolph’s ideologies and strategies provided the blueprint for the civil rights movement that emerged in the late 1950s and early 1960s.”
Randolph’s efforts were essential to the formation of the first Fair Employment Practices Committee and the integration of the armed services in the 1940s. He organized many effective protests—sit-ins, the 1957 Prayer Pilgrimage, and two Youth Marches for Integrated Schools—to preserve African American integrity while seeking racial parity. The 1963 March on Washington—for which Randolph was an organizing force—was a renewal of his attempted March on Washington of 1941.
Paula F. Pfeffer is associate professor of history at Loyola University Chicago.
Found an Error? Tell us about it.