Amtrak Celebrates National Train Day with Ceremony Honoring Pullman Porters in Chicago

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CHICAGO – Amtrak, in partnership with the Chicago-based A. Philip Randolph Museum, will host a ceremony during National Train Day this Saturday (May 10, 2008) to honor the contributions of the legendary Pullman Porters to the nation’s railroads.

Amtrak employees will gather to give heartfelt thanks in person to six porters who proudly served as far back as the mid-1940s. Honored are Eugene Bowser of Chicago, Linus J. Scott of Gary, Ind., William Turner of Cincinnati and three men from Omaha, Neb.: Terry Edwards, Johnny Newsome and Raymond Willis (biographical information attached).

“The celebration is an opportunity for Amtrak’s current employees to express their gratitude and recognize the dedication and service of their forebears, the Pullman Porters,” said Darlene Abubakar, Amtrak Director of National Advertising.

“The service of the Pullman Porters often goes under-reported as a part of American history. Today we celebrate their courageous journey, victorious struggle for equality, and contributions to passenger rail travel.”

“It’s significant when an organization like Amtrak takes the time to honor those who contributed directly to its own history,” said Lyn Hughes, Founder of the A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum. “It’s also very appropriate as it’s the culmination of the effort to create the Pullman Porter Registry. We started the Registry with Amtrak and now we’re coming full circle with its completion and the honoring of these great African American men.” Ms. Hughes is also author of An Anthology of Respect: The Pullman Porter National Historic Registry.

The Pullman Company, founded by George Pullman, manufactured railroad cars from the mid-1800s into the 20th Century and developed sleeping cars that bore the company’s name, Pullman cars. The Pullman Company hired African-Americans to work as porters on board their trains, and these porters became renowned for their outstanding service. Pullman Porters, as they came to be known, were organized into the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters under the leadership of A. Philip Randolph in 1925. The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was the first labor union led by African-Americans to receive a charter in the American Federation of Labor.

This public event begins at 12:30 p.m. in the Great Hall of Amtrak Chicago Union Station, 210 South Canal Street, preceded that morning by a private reception with Amtrak employees. Amtrak will also host another reception for retired Porters in San Francisco in August, for former Porters in the West.
The Pullman Porter recognition event is part of Amtrak’s National Train Day in Chicago, one of the four largest of the dozens of celebrations nationwide in the first-ever event of its kind. For more information, visit www.nationaltrainday.com.

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About Michael L. Grace

During the mid-80s, Michael Grace worked as a writer on the TV Hit Series THE LOVE BOAT. He wrote many of the two hour special featuring great stars of the past, including Lana Turner, Claire Trevor, Anne Baxter, Ethel Merman, Alexis Smith, etc. The public’s access to these stars, in familiar dramas and comedies, made them want to go on a cruise. They could see the stars in an ordinary world as “regular” people. The phenomenally successful series was responsible for creating the cruise industry as we know it today. By the time he was writing for Love Boat, the great steamship companies and their liners were flying hand me down foreign flags, painted like old whores, scrapped or doing three day cruises to the Bahamas. He had sailed on over thirty ships and liners with his parents, aunt and grandmother in late 50s to early 70s. The very successful CRUISING THE PAST website has been an outgrowth of Michael’s strong interest in cruise and social history. Drawing on his own knowledge and a vast maritime and social history collection, he is able to produce a very successful website. Michael is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. He has written for television and films. Read more by going to "About" (on the above dashboard) and clicking "Editor"…