Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Philadelphia APRI Awards Banquet

09.29.11

By John O. Mason

The Philadelphia chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) held its annual awards banquet aboard the yacht Spirit of Philadelphia, on Friday, September 23, 2011.
The Institute was named after A. Philip Randolph, the most prominent African-American trade-union leader in the United States. In the 1920’s he organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, which battled for over a decade with the Pullman Sleeping Car Company over wages and benefits. After the merger of the AFL and the CIO in the 1950’s, Randolph became the first African-American Vice-President of the merged organization. In 1963, with the assistance of Bayard Rustin, Randolph organized the March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have A Dream” speech.
The evening’s awardees were Frank Snyder, Secretary-Treasurer of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO; Cathy Scott, President of AFSCME District Council 47; Andrew Robinson, Secretary-Treasurer, LIUNA Local 332; and John Johnson, President of TWU Local 234.
Richard Womack Jr., President of the Philadelphia APRI and Northeast Regional Representative, greeting those in attendance, saying, “A. Philip Randolph was always in the middle of a struggle. And today, we are also in the middle of a struggle. We know how they’re taking away our collective bargaining, how they’re doing away with the teachers in the public school system. We look at how they’re talking about cutting Social security and Medicare. What does that tell you? We’re under attack, not just union members, but the community members are also under attack. We must continue to fight, and we must continue to band together, and hold strong, and hold politicians accountable, for that which is right for our community.”
The evening’s awardees, added Womack, “stood on the battlefield, they fought for what is right, and they continue to fight for what is right…I thank them for being the great leaders that they are.”
Womack also told of the work of Rosina Tucker, wife of one of the members of Randolph’s Sleeping Car Porters union, and an organizer for the union; she was “the backbone of the Sleeping Car Porters. when her husband was out there trying to organize, he was fired from his job. Rosina Tucker, being the strong woman that she was,” went to the Pullman office and said, “You put my husband back on his job, or I’ll be back.” The next day, the husband was back on his job. Womack praised the work of women in the Labor movement, adding, “They make things happen.”

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