Cover image for Tearing down the color bar : a documentary history and analysis of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters
Tearing down the color bar : a documentary history and analysis of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters
Wilson, Joseph F.
Publication Information:
New York : Columbia University Press, [1989]

Physical Description:
x, 396 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HD6515.R362 B768 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Traces the history of the most influential Black American union, discusses its link with the Civil Rights movement, and looks at the reasons for its success.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Probably no trade union of comparable size had so great an impact on US society as the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. An all-black union representing the porters who worked on Pullman railroad cars, it became a major force in the civil rights struggle. The Brotherhood recognized that economic justice on the job was of limited value if one did not have basic social and political rights off the job. This attempt to tell the union's story through a series of unedited transcripts made from tape recordings in the 1950s and 1960s is only partially successful in conveying the history-making role of the Sleeping Car Porters and its dynamic president, A. Philip Randolph. While the use of such materials acquaints the reader with the spoken language of this unique group of trade unionists, it also makes for difficult reading at times. The introductory essay on the history of the Brotherhood is helpful. One would have hoped to learn more, however, about the internal workings of the union and how they compared with the public pronouncements of its leaders. Despite these weaknesses this is an extremely important and interesting book on the role that organized workers played in shaping the nation's social agenda before and after WW II. The work's fresh insights on the civil rights movement will be particularly useful in history courses. Public and academic collections, community college through graduate. -H. Harris, Pennsylvania State University, New Kensington Campus