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Founding Site of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Maids, A Place That Matters

The Founding Site of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Maids, a former Elks Lodge at 160 W. 129th St., between Lenox & 7th Aves., nominated by Bruce Kayton.

In celebration of May Day — long associated with labor strikes and shows of worker power — we direct your attention to the place where the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was founded, in an event that the Amsterdam News called “the greatest labor mass meeting ever held of, for and by Negro working men.” On September 25, 1925, A. Philip Randolph called together 500 sleeping car porters in the local Elk’s Lodge of his Harlem neighborhood. On the stage, porters held a huge American flag and a brand new union banner, and on that day, a new union was born. The International Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Maids was the first African-American union to be chartered by the American Federation of Labor. The union and Randolph also played an important role in the larger civil rights movement.