ABOUT THIS BOOK
The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP) was the first national trade union for African Americans. Standard BSCP histories focus on the men who built the union. Yet the union's Ladies' Auxiliary played an essential role in shaping public debates over black manhood and unionization, setting political agendas for the black community, and crafting effective strategies to win racial and economic justice.
Melinda Chateauvert explores the history of the Ladies' Auxiliary and the wives, daughters, and sisters of Pullman porters who made up its membership and used the union to claim respectability and citizenship. As she shows, the Auxiliary actively educated other women and children about the labor movement, staged consumer protests, and organized local and national civil rights campaigns ranging from the 1941 March on Washington to school integration to the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Chateauvert also sheds light on the plight of Pullman maids, who—relegated to the Auxiliary—found their problems as working women neglected in favor of the rhetoric of racial solidarity.