As part of Black History Month, the National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porters Museum recently announced it will honoring the legacy of the men and women who helped build not only a railroad empire, but the Black middle class.
Outstanding local women in business, technology, education and labor, an iHeart Radio executive and a longtime state elected official are among the honorees to be recognized at the National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum Gentle Warrior Awards gala on Feb. 24 from 5 to 9 p.m. in the Parkway Ballroom, 4455 S. King Drive.
What’s different for 2018, the annual Gentle Warrior Awards celebration will include introduction of a new category, Descendants of Distinction. The award comes as the museum kicks off its campaign to build a national database of the Pullman Porters’ descendants. The culture of service and excellence carried on by the porters, despite adversity, laid the foundation for America’s black middle class and the great achievements of so many of the next generations.
2018 Descendants of Distinction awardee: Chicago-based entrepreneur JinJa Birkenbeuel, CEO of Birk Creative, and a technology coach for Google. Birkenbeuel is part of a list that includes Former First Lady Michelle Obama, actress Taraji P. Henson (“Hidden Figures,” “Empire”), actor Andre Braugher and Tom Joyner, host of the Tom Joyner Morning Show.
Pullman Porters also changed the face of organized labor while influencing the modern day civil right movement. A. Philip Randolph led this distinguished group of railroad workers who formed the first black labor union in the U.S., and the first to be chartered under the American Federation of Labor.
A Philip Randolph founder the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was one of America’s foremost labor and civil rights leaders, who became known as the “Gentle Warrior.” In 2000, in his honor, the only museum in the nation that bears his name, created the Gentle Warrior Awards Gala to recognize those who exhibit a similar commitment, focus and tenacity. “The event has evolved in scope and renowned, and we believe it warrants an environment with the level of fanfare” says Dr. Hughes
The 2018 Gentle Warrior Award honorees are: U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California); her award will be accepted by a nominee, actor-producer-director Robert Townsend (“Hollywood Shuffle”); educator Beulah McLloyd, principal, Walter H. Dyett School for the Arts; and Illinois State Rep. LaShawn K. Ford. Change Agent Awards honorees are Derrick Brown, director of urban programming for iHeart Radio; and Jaquie Algee, vice president and director of external relations for SEIU Healthcare.
The gala and fundraiser details
When: Saturday, Feb. 24
Where: Parkway Ballroom, 4455 S. King Dr., Chicago
Entertainment: Chicago twins, Todd and Troy Garner, who are called “Pullman Porters,” performing R&B, Blues and House music, with a talent that has landed them gigs such as vocal backup for Lenny Kravitz.
Tickets: $100 each to support the museum. Available at 2018 Gentle Warrior Awards.
For more information, go to https://aprpullmanportermuseum.org/special-events/.