Humanist profile.

Position:A. Philip Randolph, African American activist - Obituary

"Look for the enemies of Medicare, of higher minimum wages, of Social Security, of federal aid to education and there you will find the enemy of the Negro, the coalition of Dixiecrats and reactionary Republicans that seek to dominate the Congress."

--A. Philip Randolph, addressing the monumental crowd at the March on Washington in 1963

As a Philip Randolph was born on April 15, 1889, in Crescent City, Florida, the younger son of James William Randolph (a tailor and minister) and Elizabeth Robinson Randolph (also a tailor). Both of his parents were strong advocates for equal rights and James encouraged his sons to read the works of Thomas Paine and Robert Ingersoll, which led to discussions in which As a questioned the existence of God. He was a strong student, and he and his brother attended the Cookman Institute in Jackson, from which he graduated as the valedictorian in 1907.

Randolph moved to Harlem in New York City in 1911, where he flirted with the idea of acting and studied social science at City College. In 1913 he married Lucille Green. The two did not have any children. In 1917, with fellow socialist and friend Chandler Owen, Randolph started the Messenger, dubbed "the only magazine of scientific radicalism in the world published by Negroes." The mission statement printed in the first issue read:

Our aim is to appeal to reason, to lift our pens above the cringing demagogy of the times, and above the cheap peanut politics of the old reactionary Negro leaders. Patriotism has no appeal to us; justice has. Party has no weight with us; principle has. Loyalty is meaningless; it depends on what one is loyal to. Prayer is not one of our remedies; it depends on what one is praying for. We consider prayer as nothing more than a fervent wish; consequently the merit and worth of a prayer depend upon what the fervent wish is. Through the Messenger Randolph promoted the view that black Americans' challenge was fundamentally economic and that addressing the unfair distribution of power, wealth, and resources in the United States was key to improving the lives of all its citizens. The magazine was also decidedly against American involvement in WWI, and Randolph split from NAACP leader W. E. B. Du Bois, who was urging support to "make the world safe for democracy."...

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