Honoring The Pullman Porters Who Helped Bar Discrimination At Work


September 6, 2021

Remembering those who fought for equity in the workplace.

In 1894, President Grover Cleveland officially designated Labor Day a holiday in the US to honor the labor movement, following the Pullman Strike of 1894. However, due to discrimination Black Pullman Porters weren’t allowed to join the strike.


In 1925, the Pullman Company’s porters formed the first all-Black labor union in the US called the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP). They fought against low wages, long hours, and mistreatment of porters by white riders. By 1935, the BSCP was the first Black union organization to be granted membership into the American Federation of Labor. 

A. Philip Randolph was the union’s first president, and he planned the first March on Washington. The protest was canceled after Randolph and other civil rights leaders met with President Franklin D. Roosevelt leading him to sign Executive Order 8802. It banned discriminatory employment practices by Federal agencies and all unions and companies engaged in war-related work. This opened the doors for Black people to work in new industries they were once barred from joining. 


Thank you for fighting for the betterment of all!

Photo Credit: Chicago History Museum 

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