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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Chicago: Randolph Pulman Porter Museum

To this mom, one of the best reasons to encourage children's interest in trains is how they provide a gateway to great discussions about history and social issues. I was reminded of this fact today when my email inbox contained a Groupon offer for the A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum. Visiting Chicago's Pullman neighborhood has long been on my own to-see list, so I took a peek at their website. Under "Union History," we are given an overview of the history that brought African-American men to the Pullman Palace Car Company as porters. By the 1920s, the site reports, railroad workers provided the "the largest category of black labor in the United States and Canada."  A. Philip Randolph was the union president whose efforts led to improved pay and working conditions for the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. More of this history is showcased through links to videos and reviews of the museum, including a profile of a former Pullman Porter reflecting on his career. Just browsing the site provides great insights into a notable chapter in Chicago history. Having this museum in Chicago means that when kids' history classes (or observant questions) turn to topics of civil rights and union organization, we have a nearby resource to inform the conversation.

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