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February 8, 2021

A. Philip Randolph and the Fight for Jobs and Freedom

We are part of a rich labor history, part of which includes trailblazers that broke down walls within the labor movement. Asa Philip Randolph, better known as A. Philip Randolph, was born in 1889 in Crescent City, Florida. He was a trade unionist and civil-rights leader who was an influential figure in the struggle for justice and equality for Black Americans.

As founding president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, Randolph began organizing Black workers and, at a time when half the affiliates of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) barred Blacks from membership, took his union into the AFL. Despite opposition, he built the first successful Black trade union; the Brotherhood won its first major contract with the Pullman Company in 1937. The following year, Randolph removed his union from the AFL in protest against its failure to fight discrimination in its ranks and joined the newly formed Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO).

Randolph was instrumental in organizing marches on Washington, D.C. to effect systemic change, particularly calling on FDR to desegregate the federal government and open up federal jobs for Black Americans. This work led to orders barring discrimination in defense industries and federal bureaus and creating the Fair Employment Practices Committee.

He later formed the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) with Bayard Rustin for community leaders to study the root causes of poverty and continue the struggle for social, political and economic justice for all working Americans. APRI became the first official constituency group within the AFL-CIO, a group that now includes the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Coalition of Labor Union Women, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement and Pride At Work. Read more about Randolph and APRI at

Addressing Mental Health in Education

The events of this past year have highlighted the importance of maintaining our balance and mental health.  The Michigan Collaborative for Mindfulness in Education has gone virtual to help bring training and practice opportunities to support the well-being of educators, parents and youth. Check out their website where you will find many digital resources, including trainings.

Register Today for Next AFT Reopening Clinic

The AFT has created a series of reopening clinics on the science, strategies and tools AFT leaders need to be able talk with members and management about how to reopen schools safely. The next clinic, “Zoom to Classroom: Instruction and Learning,” is about addressing inequities in our public schools and meeting the needs of the whole child. It’s next Wednesday, Feb. 10, from 3:30-5 p.m. Eastern time. Learn how to advocate for more equitable learning models and the professionalism of teachers and school staff. Register here.

Counsel Tuition-Free Community College Applicants

Michigan Reconnect is a new state program that offers tuition-free community college to Michiganders who are 25 or older who have yet to earn a college degree.  This is an opportunity for those with some or no prior college experience to earn an associate degree or occupational certificate at a public community college tuition-free and pursue their personal or career dreams.  The state is hiring 10 Navigators to assist applicants enroll successfully in a community college.  The job posting can be found at

In solidarity, 

David Hecker, President

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