CHICAGO, Jan. 22, 2018 – The National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum (NAPRPP) announces the Gentle Warrior Awards. The gala and fundraiser is returning to the historic Parkway Ballroom, 4455 S. King Drive on Saturday, February 24. And, for the first time, this year’s honorees include Descendants of Distinction, a new award honoring descendants of the Pullman Porters, the group of distinguished railroad workers who formed the first black labor union in the U.S., chartered under the American Federation of Labor.
In 2000 the museum created a Pullman Porters National Historic Registry. Contributed to, in part, by thousands of descendants, the registry was written by museum founder Dr. Lyn Hughes, and was published in 2008. In 2015, the registry was put online in an effort to capture thousands of descendants who are out there.
“The list had grown from a few thousand to approximately 10,000. The new award category takes the descendants’ participation in this important legacy to the next level,” Dr. Hughes said.
A. Philip Randolph founded the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. He was one of America’s foremost labor and civil rights leaders, who became known as the “Gentle Warrior.” In 2000, in his honor, the NAPRPP museum created the Gentle Warrior Awards Gala to recognize individuals who exhibit a similar commitment, focus and tenacity that Randolph displayed.
This year’s Gentle Warrior Award honorees are U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California); actor-producer-director Robert Townsend (“Hollywood Shuffle”); educator Beulah McLloyd, principal, Walter H. Dyett School for the Arts; and Illinois State Rep. LaShawn K. Ford. Change Agent Awards honorees are Derrick Brown, director of urban programming for iHeart Radio; and Jaquie Algee, vice president and director of external relations for SEIU Healthcare.
Chicago-based entrepreneur JinJa Birkenbeuel, CEO of Birk Creative, and a technology coach for Google, will be recognized with the new Descendants of Distinction Award, created to honor descendants of the distinguished group of men whose culture of service and excellence built the foundation for America’s black middle class. Birkenbeuel joins a long list of renowned descendants that include Former First Lady Michelle Obama, actress Taraji P. Henson (“Hidden Figures”, “Empire”), actor Andre Braugher and Tom Joyner, host of the Tom Joyner Morning Show.
“The Pullman porters introduced class, culture and education to the African American community and framed it in a way that made it important to us as a people,” said Dr. Hughes. “They planted seeds in our ancestry that made us want to do more, be more, strive for more. They were education stalwarts who gained middle class status in the service/hospitality sector with dignity and conviction.”
The NAPRPP Museum, the only one in the nation that bears the name of A. Philip Randolph and the Pullman Porters, is located in the Pullman National Monument, designated a National Park site by President Barack Obama on February 19, 2015. This year, the museum will be celebrating two important milestones: its 23rd anniversary and the 81st anniversary of the signing of the first collective bargaining agreement between an African American labor union (the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters) and a major U.S. corporation, the Pullman Company.
For ticket information visit Eventbrite or go to https://aprpullmanportermuseum.org/special-events/.