Places that Matter

Elks Lodge #127 (former site of)

Martha Cooper
Martha Cooper
Where the Brotherhood of the Sleeping Car Porters, a black union, was founded in 1925
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Place Matters Profile

On September 25, 1925 Asa Philip Randolph called together 500 sleeping car porters in the local Elk's Lodge of his Harlem neighborhood. On the stage porters held a huge American flag and a brand new banner for the Brotherhood of the Sleeping Car Porters. That same day, a new union was born. The Amsterdam News called the gathering "the greatest labor mass meeting ever held of, for and by Negro working men." Up to that time, no black unions had existed, nor were blacks welcome in white unions. Years of struggle with the giant Pullman Company followed. Twelve years to the day from that first Harlem meeting, the Pullman Company gave the International Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Maids its first contract and acceded to many of the union's demands. Eventually union membership would rise to 15,000 nationally; not only breaking down race barriers in the labor movement, but contributing ideas and leaders to the Civil Rights Movement as well. The building now houses the Faith Mission Christian Fellowship, established in 1986.