The A. Philip Randolph National Educational Conference
By Don Valentine
The 48th annual national conference was held this past week on Hollywood beach in the luxurious Diplomat hotel. The theme this year, for the A. Philip Randolph Institute (A.P.R.I.), is “Stay Woke”. A message for our community to not become complacent given the precarious environment the Trump administration has fostered. The theme was eloquently voiced by many of Florida’s prominent political staples.
Our illustrious Congresswoman Fredrica Wilson opened the conference alongside A.F.L.- C.I.O. representatives. This was a fitting tribute to the namesake of this organization, A. Philip Randolph. Mr. Randolph, as many recall, was the forefather of the Civil Rights Movement. He organized and led the “Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters”. That was the first predominantly Black labor union. Given the era of “Jim Crow” laws his accomplishment was extremely courageous.
The APRI is a labor and social justice organization which advocates on the behalf of African American workers across the nation. It was co-founded by Mr. Randolph and Bayard Rustin. They proposed a march on Washington to protest racial discrimination in war industries, an end to segregation and of the desegregation of the American Armed forces. Randolph’s vision of peaceful protest was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. Mr. Randolph was the empirical predecessor to Dr. King, Congressman John Lewis, Reverend Jackson and Andrew Young, to name a few.
The national crowd was also addressed by Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Florida State Senators Tony Hill, Dwight Bullard, Tameeka Hobbs and keynote speaker Reverend Al Sharpton.