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A. Philip Randolph

A Life in the Vanguard

Andrew E. Kersten

Before the emergence of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., there were several key leaders who fought for civil rights in the United States. Among them was A. Philip Randolph, who perhaps best embodied the hopes, ideals, and aspirations of black Americans. Born in the South at the start of the Jim Crow era, Randolph was by his thirtieth birthday a prime mover in the movement to expand civil, social, and economic rights in America. A Socialist and a radical, Randolph devoted his life to energizing the black masses into collective action. He successfully organized the all-black Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and led the March on Washington Movement during the Second World War.

In this engaging new book, historian Andrew E. Kersten explores Randolph's significant influences and accomplishments as both a labor and civil rights leader. Kersten pays particular attention to Randolph's political philosophy, his involvement in the labor and civil rights movements, and his dedication to improving the lives of American workers.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 184Size: 6 x 9
978-0-7425-4897-8 • Hardback • December 2006 • $89.00 • (£60.00)
978-0-7425-4898-5 • Paperback • December 2006 • $31.00 • (£21.95)
978-0-7425-6922-5 • eBook • December 2006 • $29.99 • (£19.95)
Andrew E. Kersten is associate professor of history and the chair of social change & development at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay. He is the author of Race, Jobs, and the War: The FEPC in the Midwest, 1941–1946, Labor's Home Front: The American Federation of Labor and World War II, and numerous articles.
Chapter 1: From Preacher Son to Socialist Radical: Randolph's Formative Years in Florida and New York City
Chapter 2: A Union Revolution: The Creation of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters
Chapter 3: When Negroes Don't March: A. Philip Randolph and the Power of Protest Politics during World War II
Chapter 4: Unfinished Business: Randolph's Civil Rights Struggles During the Cold War
Chapter 5: The 1963 March on Washington: Randolph's Finest Hour

Bibliographic Essay
Andrew Kersten's A. Philip Randolph: A Life in the Vanguard accomplishes its goals to an exceptional degree. In clear, often eloquent, prose Kersten relates the essentials of Randolph's life and achievements. Kersten's sympathetic, but not uncritical, portrait is grounded in the extensive primary sources and recent scholarly studies without being overwhelmed by them. For the interested general reader and the discerning undergraduate, Kersten's Randolph should be the biography of choice.
John H. Bracey Jr., University of Massachusetts, Amherst

This very fine biography of A. Philip Randolph reminds us that the roots of the 20th century civil rights movement are found as much in the urban North as in the rural South. Andrew Kersten never lets us forget that Randolph proved such a successful tribune because he faithfully advanced the aspirations of a restless, multiracial working class, within the world of Pullman service and without.
Nelson Lichtenstein, director of the Center for Work, Labor and Democracy at the University of California, Santa Barbara