Rosina Harvey Tucker: Labor Organizer, Civil Rights Activist, Educator

 
Rosina Harvey Tucker
(1881-1987)
Labor Organizer
Civil Rights Activist
Educator

  • Rosina Harvey was born in Northwest Washington, DC in 1881, one of 9 children of formerly enslaved parents from Virginia.  She married B. J. Tucker, a Pullman porter and a founding member of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.
  • Organizing the porters was difficult because the men were always on the road, working long hours.  Porters were fired by the company for union activities; fear of retaliation was real.
  • Rosina Tucker worked closely with A. Philip Randolph in establishing the Brotherhood. She became a leader in the union’s Women’s Economic Council.  “We furnished a great deal of the money in the beginning that was basic to the struggle to organize, by giving parties, dances, dinners, anyway we could,” she said. “Lots of men lost their jobs, but the women held secret meetings.”
  • A. Philip Randolph and Rosina Tucker

    A. Philip Randolph and Rosina Tucker

  • Visiting the homes of hundreds of porters in the Washington, DC area, her reputation as a black female organizer grew. With no full-time union staff she collected dues, distributed the union newspaper, The Black Worker, and encouraged the wives of Pullman porters to become active.
  •  In 1963 she helped organize the March on Washington. She assisted the District of Columbia labor movement by helping  to organize laundry workers, domestic workers, hotel and restaurant workers, teachers and red caps at Union Station.
  • At the age of 102 she testified before a Senate subcommittee on aging.  She narrated Miles of Smiles, Years of Struggle (1981) the award-winning documentary.

In 1983 she received a humanitarian award from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and a leadership award from the Coalition of 100 Black Womens’ Clubs.  She was an elder of the 15th Street Presbyterian Church; her autobiography, My Life as I Have Lived It, was published posthumously.

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