Founders of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
A. Philip Randolph
Asa Philip Randolph (1889-1979) was the grandfather of the modern civil rights movement. He founded the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in 1925 — the first time a group of Black workers forced recognition by their employers. Randolph went on to become the first Black vice-president of the AFL-CIO.
In 1941, Randolph’s threat of a massive March on Washington led to President Roosevelt issuing the Fair Employment Act. Randolph also was a major force behind the 1963 March on Washington. Throughout his life, Randolph was a coalition builder who fought for the rights of working people.
Roy Wilkins (1901-1981) began his distinguished civil rights career as an officer of the local Kansas City branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in the 1920s. He was executive director of the National NAACP from 1955-1977 and then was named executive director emeritus of the organization.
Wilkins’ ability to get action where others failed earned him a reputation as master strategist and statesman in the cause of civil rights. He was given numerous awards for his efforts on behalf of equal opportunity for all including the Congressional Gold Medal and the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civil honor.
Arnold Aronson (1911-1998) came to the civil rights movement as program director of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council (NJCRAC), a coalition of national and local Jewish agencies. He is also a founding father of a number of other civil rights organizations including the National Urban Coalition, the National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing, and the National Association of Human Rights Workers.
Until his death, Mr. Aronson served as president of The Leadership Conference Education Fund.