This Day in History

Aug. 25, 1925: Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters

Time Periods: Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920 - 1944
Themes: African American, Labor
Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters | Zinn Education Project

Poster by Meredith Stern. Click for ordering information. Source: Justseeds

On Aug. 25, 1925, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP) was launched, led by A. Philip Randolph and Milton P. Webster. As explained on The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow,

The porters worked for the Pullman Company, whose founder, George Pullman, invented the overnight sleeping train car in the 1880s in Chicago.

Pullman hired Black men and women to serve as porters and maids to the mostly white passengers who used the cars.

By using Blacks in a service capacity, he was drawing upon the master-servant relationship of slavery days when Blacks were servants to white masters.

The union played a vital role in U.S. labor and Civil Rights Movement history. Activists including E. D. Nixon of the Montgomery Bus Boycott were leaders of the BSCP.

Read Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters from Blackpast.org to learn more.

Additional recommended resources include those listed below and Rising from the Rails: Pullman Porters and the Making of the Black Middle Class by Larry Tye. SNCC veteran Julian Bond wrote,

Larry Tye has written a much-deserved love song to the forgotten men of the civil rights and labor movements the — Pullman porters who defeated a major corporation, helped finance numerous civil rights battles, spread news and culture nationwide, and set a high standard for dignity.