A. Philip Randolph was revered by many younger civil rights activists, who regarded him as the spiritual father of the movement. "If he had been born in another period, maybe of another color," said John Lewis, "he probably would have been president." Randolph established the nation’s first black labor union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, in 1925. He pressured President Roosevelt in 1942 to end discrimination in wartime industries and President Truman in 1948 to order desegregation of the armed forces. In 1963 Randolph proposed a March on Washington for jobs and freedom. His gift for evoking the best impulses in people helped the other civil rights leaders set aside personal rivalries and join together to plan the greatest peaceful demonstration in American history.
View digital copies of his correspondence with the White House:
Letter (5/4/62) from A. Philip Randolph to President Kennedy requesting a conference with him "concerning the increasingly worsening problems of the black laboring masses in our country."
Telegram (8/2/62) from A. Philip Randolph to the President: “I wish to extend congratulations to you on your timely forthright and constructive statement on racial tension in Albany Georgia.”
Telegram (10/1/62) from A. Philip Randolph congratulating the President on his actions in the admission of James Meredith to the University of Mississippi.
Telegram (3/27/63) from A. Philip Randolph urging the President to send U.S. marshals and FBI agents to Greenwood, Mississippi where civil rights workers involved in voter registration had been attacked: “A white mob is gathering in the area. Absolutely imperative immediate federal action be taken. Reign of terror being waged against Negroes must end.”
Telegram (6/20/63) from A. Philip Randolph to President Kennedy, commending him for proposed civil rights legislation and asking that a Fair Employment Practices Commission be included.
Letter (8/13/63) from A. Philip Randolph to JFK about the upcoming March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, requesting that the President meet with the sponsoring committee on the day of the March.