Asa Philip Randolph, 1945 by Betsy Graves Reyneau, Oil on canvas
Asa Philip Randolph believed that the key to African American equality was economics, which led him to develop a number of organized alliances and publications intended to improve the circumstances of blacks in the workforce. His efforts to unite exploited and underpaid black workers eventually resulted in the formation of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in the mid-1920s, and in his acceptance as a spokesman for civil rights. Later in life, his vacillation between promoting both integration and racial exclusivity engendered disdain from Black Power advocates. Even so, his impact on the American labor movement and the cause of civil rights served to inspire the next generation of leaders, who subscribed to his motto, "Rather we die standing on our feet fighting for rights than to exist upon our knees begging for life."