“The National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum will mark its anniversary this weekend with a gala and fundraiser to support its $30 million expansion and work to create the country’s first Black Labor tourism district.
“Leaders want to expand the museum inside three floors of a Pullman rowhouse at 10406 S. Maryland Ave. to include a new wing, a cafe and other features. It is part of several planned projects, including a research library, visitors plaza, community garden and women’s history museum.
“Eventually, organizers hope to rename the strip A. Philip Randolph Way, honoring the founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the country’s first nationally recognized Black worker’s union made up of Pullman Porters.
“The project could break ground this spring.
“Rep. Robin Kelly, whose district includes the museum, said honoring the history of the Pullman Porters is especially important.
“‘That’s really where the labor movement and the union started, from the work and the strike and the bloodiness even of what the gentleman went through that worked for Pullman and were Pullman porters,’ Kelly said. ‘That’s where it all began. So that’s why it’s so important to highlight as part of not only Chicago history [and] Black history, but American history.’
“Established in 1995, the National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum uses photography, archival material, videos and more to teach visitors about the porters, Black men who were an integral part of George Pullman’s railcar company.
“The museum expansion will help leaders tell the story of the Pullman Porters on a larger scale, Peterson said.
“‘We’ve done so much work that spills outside of the community into the region, not just even our immediate community,’ Peterson said. ‘We’ve outgrown our space, frankly, and we have to now expand in order to protect, preserve and interpret. That’s our mission.’
“The first phase of the work will add the Jesse Jackson Civil Rights Wing to the museum, providing “the opportunity to tell some of the stories that are there and add a couple of more,’ Peterson said. That work also will add an honorary wall to list notable or famous people who are descendants of Pullman Porters.
“A new youth and young adult wing will host the museum’s young historians program, Peterson said. There, attendees will be able to also enjoy the Green Initiatives Program Division and A. Philip Randolph Advocacy Training Organization, Program Division, Peterson said.” (McDonald, Block Club Chicago, 2/23/23)