When I was a kid, Labor Day used to mean that School was starting the next day. I don’t know any school systems that wait anymore. They’re all starting in August.
So, now, I guess it signifies that Fall is truly around the corner.
Labor Day itself, I think of Unions. And all that Unions have done for the American worker, whether they want to admit it or not.
Labor Day is a federal holiday in the United States celebrated on the first Monday in September to honor and recognize the American labor movement and the works and contributions of laborers to the development and achievements of the United States. The three-day weekend it falls on is called Labor Day Weekend.
African Americans have participated in labor movements since the beginning.
African Americans and the American Labor Movement
Federal Records and African American History (Summer 1997, Vol. 29, No. 2)
By James Gilbert Cassedy
The records of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) have been, and will remain, indispensable to the study of African American labor history. Thirty NARA record groups (approximately 19,711 cubic feet of documentary material) document the activities of federal agencies whose core missions pertained to labor and labor management relations. There are also many other record groups that contain material of interest to students of American labor history even though they document the activities of federal agencies whose primary concern was not the resolution of labor disputes or the control of labor management relations. Locating records that document the role of African Americans in American labor history can be difficult because the federal agencies and offices that created these records arranged their indexes and files by name of institutions such as the name of the company or the name of the union involved in a controversy. This overview briefly traces the growth of black labor relations and provides an introduction to the research value of several NARA record groups.
African Americans are known to have participated in labor actions before the Civil War. In the early nineteenth century, African Americans played a dominant role in the caulking trade, and there is documentation of a strike by black caulkers at the Washington Navy Yard in 1835.
One of the most famous examples of Blacks in the Labor movement was the organizing of the Pullman Porters.
Founded in 1925, The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP) was the first labor organization led by African Americans to receive a charter in the American Federation of Labor (AFL). The BSCP gathered a membership of 18,000 passenger railway workers across Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Beginning after the American Civil War, the job of Pullman porter had become an important means of work in the black community in the United States. As a result of a decline in railway transportation in the 1960s, BSCP membership declined. It merged in 1978 with the Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks (BRAC), now known as the Transportation Communications International Union.
The leaders of the BSCP—including A. Philip Randolph, its founder and first president, Milton Webster, vice president and lead negotiator, and C. L. Dellums, vice president and second president—became leaders in the Civil Rights Movement, especially concerning fair employment and continued to play a significant role in the movement after it focused on the eradication of segregation in the Southern United States. BSCP members such as E. D. Nixon were among the leadership of local desegregation movements by virtue of their organizing experience, constant movement between communities, and freedom from economic dependence on local authorities.