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Tuesday, August 27, 2013    

Amtrak honors memory of Pullman Porters' union founder

Amtrak officials yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement's "March on Washington" by honoring the memory of A. Philip Randolph, a civil rights leader who formed the first African-American labor union for Pullman Porters.

In a ceremony held at Union Station in Washington, D.C., Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Boardman remembered Randolph for his "fight for the rights of others that inspired him to be the voice of the Pullman Porters."

Randolph organized the Pullman Porters, as they came to be known, into the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. It was the first union led by African-Americans to receive a charter in the American Federation of Labor.

"Ultimately, his actions as a civil rights advocate helped to shape America's railroad system," said Boardman in a prepared statement.

A statue of Randolph stands on the concourse at Washington's Union Station.

Founded by George Pullman, the Pullman Co. manufactured railroad cars from the mid-1800s into the 20th century, and developed the sleeping cars that bore the company's name. The company hired African-Americans to work as porters onboard trains, and they became well-known for their outstanding service.

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was held Aug. 28, 1963. Attended by about 250,000 people, the event's highlight was the "I Have a Dream" speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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