Manchester Life 2021 | Page 62

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60 manchester life | manchesterlifemagazine . com
After being poorly compensated for their tireless efforts for years and being denied entrance to the Eugene Debs-led American Railway Union , the Black porters who worked for the Pullman Company began to officially organize in 1909 to advocate for fair wages and equal treatment . Their initial efforts to unionize were stifled by the formation of a farcical company-led union organization , the sole purpose of which was to stall and placate the Black porters while simultaneously working to undermine their interests .
In 1925 , the Black porters attempted to organize once more and enlisted the help of a well-known union organizer and political journalist by the name of A . Philip Randolph . Together , they formed the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters ( BSCP ) and rapidly grew the ranks of the organization to include over half of the porters who worked for the Pullman Company . Although the BSCP ’ s efforts were thwarted by a series of mass-firings and intimidation tactics on behalf of the Pullman Company for several years , their fortunes shifted after amendments to the Railway Labor Act were passed in 1934 that granted them new federal protections . In 1935 , the BSCP began to officially negotiate with the Pullman Company . By 1937 , the BSCP and the Pullman Company had reached an agreement that offered the Black porters sizable wage hikes , reduced hours , and compensated overtime .
The BSCP ’ s landmark success was a watershed moment for civil rights advocacy , which demonstrated the power of organized protest and negotiation . In the aftermath of the BSCP ’ s victorious resolution , A . Philip Randolph continued to fight for the rights of Black Americans . He formed crucial alliances with other key civil rights figures such as Dr . Martin Luther King Jr . and Bayard Rustin and organized several events and marches over the next few decades . His efforts would eventually lead to the March on Washington For Jobs and Freedom in March of 1963 , which was the site of Dr . Martin Luther King Jr .’ s unforgettable “ I Have A Dream ” speech . The rally is regarded by many as a pivotal turning point in the civil rights movement , which led to the eventual signature of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act under President Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and 1965 , respectively .
“ Manchester and the Mountains ”
Several years after Robert Todd Lincoln became President of the Pullman Company , he returned to Manchester to visit his business partner , Edward Isham . Lincoln was an avid golfer , and Isham was the acting president of the newlyopened Ekwanok Golf Club . After a few spirited rounds of golf , Lincoln became wholeheartedly enamored with Manchester and the Ekwanok Golf Club . He then made an offer to purchase a parcel of land from Isham , who owned a sizable property nearby . Although Isham refused the offer , Lincoln eventually purchased 400 acres of Isham ’ s land after Isham passed away in 1902 . In 1903 , Lincoln began building up his property at Hildene , and became president of the Ekwanok Golf Club soon thereafter .
While Lincoln was busy overseeing the continued corporate success of the Pullman Company , building his estate at Hildene , and honing his golf skills at the Ekwanok Golf Club , Manchester was in the midst of a tourism boom that had been burgeoning since the middle of the 19th century . According to the Manchester Historical Society ’ s Curator , Shawn Harrington , Pullman cars played an integral part in the continued development of Manchester ’ s tourist economy .