Tag: Pullman Porters

Lee Wesley Gibson, the Oldest Living Pullman Porter, Celebrates 105th Birthday

oldest living pullman porter, lee wesley gibson
Oldest Living Pullman Porter Lee Wesley Gibson observes his 105th birthday at Maggiano’s Italian Restaurant in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 21, 2015 with family friend Jan Tuggle at his side. (Photo via eurweb.com)

Over 100 family and friends came to celebrate the 105th birthday of Lee Wesley Gibson at Maggiano’s Italian Restaurant in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 21st, given by his three daughters, Gwendolyn Reed, Barbara Leverette and Gloria Gibson of Los Angeles.

According to records at the A. Phillip Randolph Museum in Chicago, Gibson is currently the oldest living Pullman Porters.  Gibson was immaculately dressed wearing a designer suit and tie, a custom white dress shirt with “105” embroidered on cuffs.

The invocations was given by his pastor, Bishop Craig A. Worsham of People’s Independent Church of Christ in Los Angeles.  The guests dined to a sumptuous meal, which included crabcakes, fried zucchini, pecan, apples and grapes garden salad, chicken marsala, tilipia, eggplant, spinach and mash potatoes, fresh fruit and New York cheesecake.

Gibson received a congratulatory letter was received from President Barack Obama, as well as resolutions from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas, as well as, President of the  Los Angeles City Council Herb Wesson, signed by all members of the council.

Larry Jefferson, a close family friend, sang a soaring, acapella rendition of Happy Birthday prior to Gibson blowing out the candles on his cake.  As the afternoon came to a close, Gibson’s daughters, Gloria and Gwendolyn, paid tribute to their father and thanked everyone who helped make the afternoon possible.

Gibson was born on May 21, 1910 in Keatchie, Louisiana.  His family moved to Marshall, Texas when he was a young boy.  He later married Beatrice A. Gibson in 1927 and they moved their family to Los Angeles, California in 1936.

His beloved wife passed away in 2004 after 76 of marriage.  Gibson retired from Union Pacific Railroad in 1974 after serving for 38 years as a Pullman Porter.

Even after retirement, he continued to live life to the fullest.  He volunteered at Los Angeles International Airport assisting travelers.  Gibson also managed income tax preparation offices for H&R Block.  He served as District Director for AARP tax preparation assistance program for seniors.

Gibson has served as church treasurer, deacon, and officer of the church credit union at People’s Independent Church, where he has been a member for over 65 years.  Most recently Mr. Gibson was featured in a TV commercial for Dodge entitled “Wisdom,” which honored centenarians.  It aired during the 2015 Super Bowl telecast.

Gibson is in great health, taking only a daily vitamin.  He enjoys going to church, spending time with family and friends, watching the Los Angeles Dodgers and attending social events.  In addition to his three daughters, he is the grandfather of six, great-grandfather of nineteen, great-great-grandfather of twenty-two and the great-great-great-grandfather of three.

article via eurweb.com

Remembering the Legacy of Union Leader A. Phillip Randolph on Labor Day

A. Phillip Randolph (AP Photo)
A. Phillip Randolph (AP Photo)

“We are the advance guard of a massive moral revolution for jobs and freedom. This revolution reverberates throughout the land, touching every village where black men are segregated, oppressed and exploited,” the 74-year-old A. Philip Randolph told the estimated 250,000 people gathered at the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom fifty years ago on August 28, 1963.

Although today Dr. King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech often symbolizes the March for many, it was very much a stand for black workers with longtime labor leader Randolph at the forefront. He was so committed that neither advanced age nor the death of his wife shortly before the March could keep him home.

More than twenty years before, it was Randolph who had conceived the massive demonstration.  Scheduled to take place July 1, 1941, the original March was intended to protest discrimination against black employment in defense industries and federal bureaus and demand that President Franklin D. Roosevelt issue an Executive Order to end such practices.

So, on June 25, 1941, when Roosevelt, after exhausting all means, including personal appeals from his wife Eleanor to Randolph, to call off the march which anticipated 100,000 participants, issued Executive Order 8802 creating the Fair Employment Practices Committee and barring discrimination in defense industries and federal bureaus, Randolph called off the March in victory.  Merging the philosophies of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois by setting economic justice as the foundation of civil rights, Randolph would not stop or even begin here.

Born Asa Philip Randolph, the second of his parents’ two sons, on April 15, 1889 in Crescent, Fla, near Jacksonville where he later grew up, service was a consistent message in his childhood. His father, the Rev. James W. Randolph, in keeping with the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) philosophy, ministered to his congregation’s social and spiritual needs. Rev. Randolph and his wife Elizabeth, who hailed from a once enslaved family who were also AME members, taught their sons racial pride and self-respect. Encouraging young Asa Randolph’s healthy thirst for knowledge, Rev. Randolph filled the family’s home.

Tall, handsome, popular and smart, Randolph sang in the choir, was a star baseball player and a great speaker. Despite graduating valedictorian from Cookman Institute (later incorporated into Bethune-Cookman in Daytona Beach, Fla.) in 1907, there was not suitable employment for him in Jacksonville. Not wishing to follow in his father’s footsteps as minister, Randolph hired himself out as a hand on a steamship and headed for New York City in 1911, shortly after he turned 22, with dreams of becoming an actor.

In New York, he worked several jobs, including elevator operator, porter and waiter, while also studying English Literature and Sociology at City College at night. Despite organizing the Shakespearean Society in Harlem and playing several roles, including Hamlet, Othello and Romeo, Randolph was clearly destined to make his mark on a different stage. With kindred spirit Chandler Owen, a Columbia University student, Randolph founded the employment agency, the Brotherhood of Labor, where the two tried to unionize black workers.

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