This Day in History

Jan. 25, 1941: A. Philip Randolph and March on Washington

Time Periods: 1920
Themes: African American, Democracy & Citizenship, Labor, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements
March on Washington 1941 | Zinn Education Project

Source: State Historical Society of Iowa.

On Jan. 25, 1941, A. Philip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters union, made the official call for a march on Washington, with the demand to end segregation in defense industries.

The threatened March on Washington led to Executive Order 8802, stating that there should be “no discrimination in the employment of workers in defense industries or Government because of race, creed, color, or national origin.”

The March on Washington Movement (MOWM) continued. Randolph stated that the goal of the MOWM was not just desegregation and an end to war.

Unless this war sounds the death knell to the old Anglo-American empire systems, the hapless story of which is one of exploitation for the profit and power of a monopoly capitalist economy, it will have been fought in vain. Our aim then must not only be to defeat Nazism, fascism, and militarism on the battlefield but to win the peace, for democracy, for freedom and the Brotherhood [and Sisterhood].

The March on Washington in 1963 also began with a focus on African American labor rights, as Bill Fletcher Jr. explains in Claiming and Teaching the 1963 March on Washington.