Amtrak Celebrates Black History Month with Special Ceremony Honoring Pullman Porters

WASHINGTON – Amtrak, in partnership with the A. Philip Randolph Museum, hosted a ceremony Feb. 25 at Washington Union Station to honor the contributions of the legendary Pullman Porters to the nation’s railroads.

Amtrak employees gathered to give heartfelt thanks in person to three Pullman Porters who proudly served as far back as the mid-1940s.& Honored were E. Donald Hughes, retired sleeping car porter, from Columbia, Md., William H. Costen, retired chair car porter, from Hartford, Conn., and Thomas E. Dunn, retired dining car cook, from Washington, D.C.

“Today’s 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 Amtrak Director of National Advertising Darlene Abubakar. “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 in Chicago. “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.

In addition to the Feb. 25 event, Amtrak will also host receptions for retired Porters in the Midwest in Chicago in May, and in San Francisco in August for former Porters in the West.