In Praise of Porters

by
Abby Zimet
A Pullman porter circa January 1943

In honor of National Train Day – who knew? – give a listen to NPR's piece on the Pullman porters - the first group Rosa Parks called
when she was arrested, the first African-American labor union, and the
forbearers to the civil rights movement and black middle class. For several decades and all the wrong reasons, George Pullman provided thousands with "the best job a black man could have in those years" – and the means to send their kids on to college and a better life – says Larry Tye, author of author of "Rising from the Rails: The Pullman Porters
and the Making of the Black Middle Class."

"They were considered part of the funishings," he says, "but it's an extraordinary history." 

 

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