The Pullman Porters, Civil Rights, and the Start of America’s Black Middle Class

Last year, President Obama declared Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood a national monument. Pullman is named after George Pullman — owner of the Pullman Company that manufactured and operated railroad cars starting in the 1860s. But, a group of Pullman employees is credited with much more: creating America’s black middle class and starting the Civil Rights Movement. The Pullman Porters were African-American workers who served patrons on the railroads from the late 1860s until the 1960s. When the Pullman Company refused to negotiate with these workers, they took action that dominoed into movements that helped end legal discrimination across the country.

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March 3, 2016