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Richard Trumka - President of National AFL-CIO - to Receive A. Philip Randolph “Gentle Warrior”
By: A Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum
The “A. Philip Randolph Gentle Warrior Award” is the Museum's highest and most prestigious honor. It is presented to deserving individuals who “push against the boundaries of conventionality with a warrior spirit, in much the same manner as A. Philip Randolph did throughout his career.”
Mr. Trumka's inspiring leadership, conviction and passion have earned him the respect and admiration of all he's touched. His commitment to fairness, his resolve to combat racism - including acts directed toward President Obama -- and his courage in fighting apartheid exemplify the type of courage and warrior spirit that make him uniquely qualified to receive this honor.
Dr. Lyn Hughes, founder of the Museum, said that his life is a profile in excellence, achievement and working toward the greater good. Said Hughes, “Mr. Trumka's qualities are rare but are the traits that propelled the AFL-CIO leader to success. In totality, these are the reasons he's receiving the award.”
Trumka's ascension to the presidency was shaped when he was a 12-year-old growing up in Rices Landing, Pa. He complained about how badly mineworkers were being treated. His grandfather, a miner, challenged him to do something about it. The seeds of advocacy and leadership were planted. Inspired by his hard- working father, Frank, Trumka worked in the mines for over seven years while working his way through Penn State University where he graduated with a BS. His academic background, combined with his firsthand witnessing of the hazards of mining, guided him to return to help fight for the miners.
After receiving a law degree from Villanova, he worked on the legal staff of the United Mine Workers for four years and provided pro bono legal work for local families.
Eventually, his ability to lead catapulted him to the upper tier of the union leadership ranks. At 33, he was elected the United Mine Workers of America's youngest president, where he served three terms. The changes he made set the UMWA on a progressive course and earned him union wide recognition and praise. In September 2009, he was elected President of the AFL-CIO by acclamation and re-elected in 2013.
Trumka exhibited unique leadership as he galvanized workers around a cause. He's also demonstrated an ability to motivate workers to show solidarity. These bold acts have won him widespread support within the union community and beyond.
In making the announcement, Dr. Hughes and Museum president David A. Peterson, commended Trumka and hailed him as an inspiration, not only for those in unions, but also for everyone seeking an authentic leader. Through all of his leadership positions, he has been encouraged by a desire to serve and help others.
“We are proud and honored to present Richard Trumka this award,” they declared. “He has devoted his life to helping others and decrying wrongdoing. The same sense of mission that vaulted A. Philip Randolph to success has made Mr. Trumka a profile in leadership. We are honored to be presenting him this award and eagerly look forward to bestowing it upon him on February 28 in Chicago.”
The 2015 Gentle Warrior Gala event will also celebrate a major milestone for the A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum as it marks its 20th anniversary as the world's only Museum exclusively devoted to showcasing the contributions of African Americans to America's labor history. It is also the only cultural institution dedicated to preserving the legacy of labor trailblazer A. Philip Randolph.
In addition to honoring Mr. Trumka, the gala will provide a platform for communicating the Museum's message, chronicling its progress, and showcasing its history.
The UAW, founder Hughes and Museum President David Peterson invite those who support the union movement, message and mission to come out and join in the celebration.
For more information on the Museum and for a link on where to purchase tickets to the gala celebration, log on to on to www.aprpullmanportermuseum.org/
Melody M. McDowell