African American Civil Rights Leader and Trade Unionist
Leader of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP): the first African-American union which in 1937 won a contract from the Pullman Company (the first ever signed by a white employer with an African-American labor leader).
Vice-President of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).
Organized the first March on Washington 1941 to protest exclusion of African-Americans from defense plants; the march was called off only after President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802 to establish the first Fair Employment Practice Committee.
Demanded that segregation in the armed forces be abolished; in 1948 President Harry Truman issued Executive Order 9981 to racially integrate the armed services.
Helped to organize the 1963 March on Washington for jobs and freedom, where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King gave the "I Have a Dream" speech.