Professor Eric Arnesen Kicks Off Teamsters Labor History Research Center Book Talk Series

Submitted by LHRC on Tue, 11/13/2012 - 14:59

The Teamsters Labor History Research Center held its first Book Talk on November 8, 2012, 5:30-7:00 p.m.  The speaker was Professor Eric Arnesen of the GWU Department of History.  His topic was “The Next Emancipation: A. Philip Randolph’s Life in Labor and Civil Rights.”  Professor Arnesen is currently writing a biography of Randolph (1889-1979), longtime leader of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and a tireless fighter for civil rights.

Professor Arnesen introduced his talk by noting Randolph’s role in the civil rights movement, saying that we tend to think of the movement emerging in the 1950s with Rosa Parks and Brown v. Board of Education.  Randolph’s agitation for racial equality however dates from the 1930s.  He was the moving force behind the planned but not executed 1941 March on Washington.  In Arnesen’s estimation, Randolph was the central figure in civil rights movement “pre-history.”

Professor Arnesem then proceeded to follow Randolph’s progress from childhood to his education and work with the Socialist Party and the labor and civil rights movements.  The presentation was nicely supplemented with photographic images and other graphics.