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Saturday, May 16, 2009

The invisible man

At one time, the Pullman porters were considered the "consummate invisible man." Here's an interesting report from last week about the history of Pullman Porters (Rising from the Rails: How A. Philip Randolph and the Pullman Porters Helped Pave the Way for the Civil Rights Movement):

The first porters George Pullman hired after the Civil War were former slaves. In the ’20s, over 20,000 African Americans worked for the Pullman Company, making it one of the largest employers of African American men.
Today, there are about forty surviving Pullman porters, four of whom were at the event in 30th Street Station in Philadelphia Saturday.

Of course, everyone knows how our own Robert Todd Lincoln was president of the Pullman Palace Car Company.

Continuing with the report:

Its low salary, the long hours, the idea that if they broke any one of the hundreds of George Pullman’s rules in his rule book that they could be fired, this led them repeatedly to try to unionize. And George Pullman and his successor, Robert Todd Lincoln, repeatedly crushed them.

Funny (not haha funny). I guess the son of the man who freed the slaves didn't have a very good appreciation for plight of these former slaves and sons of slaves.

There's also a book (buy it) and a documentary.

Posted by Marie at May 16, 2009 4:49 PM


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