A. Philip Randolph

A. Philip Randolph at the March on Washington, 1963.

National Archives
Photo: Rowland Scherman

A. Philip Randolph, labor leader and Harlem journalist, discusses the theatrical scene in Harlem in the 1930s. Randolph, best known as the organizer of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first successful African American union, had come to Harlem in 1911 so that he could become an actor. In 1917, together with Columbia student Chandler Owen, he began to edit and publish the socialist magazine The Messenger, which combined writing about radicals and union news with literary criticism and other writing by well-known African American intellectuals, including Paul Robeson and Claude McKay.

Read Oral History

Photo Essay: Harlem Arts & Culture
"Harlem, New York, was a place where for the first time Negroes got out into the mainstream of the dramatic world. You had extraordinarily large dramatic movements."
—A. Philip Randolph

Arts and Culture
The flowering of Harlem music, theater, and writing is explored by Columbia faculty and recalled by eminent African Americans social leaders.

The Neighborhood
Harlem at different times was a magnet for Jews, West Indians, and African Americans from across the United States.

Reflections on Adam Clayton Powell, the odyssey of David Dinkins and political culture itself in Harlem.

Columbia Next Door
Quotations on Columbia’s role in the Harlem community.

The Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia.

Paul Robeson
One of the most prominent black Americans of the 1930s and 1940s, Robeson won critical and popular acclaim for his stage and screen roles.

Ahead of Their Time
From Sid Luckman to Franklin D. Roosevelt, Columbians have often been ahead of their time.
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