Sunday, March 20 — *Ten Thousand Black Men Named George*

miki soos logoWhen the Great Depression struck America in the 1920’s, finding work was hard, but if you were poor and black, it was virtually impossible.

Working as a porter for the Pullman Rail Company was an option, but it meant taking home a third as much as white employees and working some days for free. You could forget about being called by your real name–all black porters were simply called George after George Pullman, the first person to employ emancipated slaves.

Asa Philip Randolph, a black journalist and educated socialist trying to establish a voice for these forgotten workers, agreed to fight for the Pullman porters’ cause and form the first black union in America. Livelihoods and lives were put at risk in the attempt to gain 10,000 signatures of men known only as “George.” This is the true story of how a courageous leader came to be known as “the most dangerous man in America.”

On August 25th, 1937 the Pullman Company signed the first ever agreement between a union of black workers and a major American corporation. It was twelve years – to the day – of the founding of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

For the next four decades Randolph carried forward his fight for equality. In 1963, commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Randolph initiated the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. It was at that gathering that a young Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech … and Randolph passed his torch to a new generation of leaders in the fight for Civil Rights.

Join us this Sunday, March 20th (also the Vernal Equinox and Palm Sunday) from 4-6 p.m. (+ potluck) to watch “Ten Thousand Black Men Named George,” to learn more about this history of activism. At our Environmental Cottage, 3449 West River Road, Grand Island, NY 14072.

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