National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum to Commemorate Labor Day with Symbolic Groundbreaking Ceremony

The National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum will celebrate Labor Day Weekend with the 6th Installment of “The Urban Renaissance Event Series” which pays tribute to and re-creates the energy of the Harlem and Chicago Renaissance Periods through music, art, literature, and film.

The lineup of activities will culminate with a symbolic groundbreaking ceremony of the museum expansion project Labor Day, September 5, at 11:00 a.m. on its campus at 817 East 104th Street in Chicago’s historic Pullman neighborhood followed by a Cultural Explosion from 2:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Noted entrepreneur and music industry executive Damon Dash will be participating in several of the Urban Renaissance events including a film screening, a children’s book launch, the “Paid in Full” Live Interactive Event at the Harold Washington Cultural Center, the museum groundbreaking ceremony and cultural explosion. His goal is to lend an influential voice of support as an advocate for African American culture, while expanding the museum’s reach into the metaverse through innovative activations in the “Footprint Project.”

“Similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Mr. Dash seeks to lend his celebrity status, to help the museum launch and implement a path of footprints that lead to the entrance of the expanded museum campus,” said Museum President David Peterson, Jr. “Each footprint will symbolize the empowerment of entrepreneurs and pay tribute to the Black Labor movement.”

In addition, museum leaders have invited a host of public and union officials, community leaders and advocates committed to shedding light on the impact of A. Philip Randolph and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Established 27 years ago, the Pullman Porter museum is the only one of its kind in the country.

“Earlier this year, we announced plans of this expansion and have been working diligently to build public support, raise funds and amplify the story of Black Labor all in the name of realizing this vision,” said Museum Founder Dr. Lyn Hughes. “We have more work to do, and this groundbreaking serves as a catalyst for commitment by all stakeholders.”

Invited groundbreaking attendees include Mayor Lori Lightfoot and 9th Ward Alderman Anthony Beal. Confirmed guests include Congresswoman Robin Kelly, State Representative Nick Smith, President of the Chicago Federation of Labor Bob Reiter and Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller, who is also a Pullman Porter descendant.

The expansion, termed the Community Economic Development Empowerment Project” (CEDEP 2020), is a multi-phase comprehensive innovative plan that will include expanded galleries and exhibit space, revenue generating space and the Jesse Jackson Civil Rights Wing, complete with an elevator, to ensure handicap accessibility.

“We are poised to deliver a living, breathing Black Labor historic, cultural tourism district known as ‘Randolph’s Way,’” said Peterson. “We are confident that the completion of this expansion will simultaneously launch a neighborhood stabilization plan providing employment and economic opportunities for the residents and businesses in our community and beyond.”

Peterson went on to emphasize that the anchor and crown jewel of Randolph’s Way will be the National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum. A highlight of the district will be Pullman Porters Row, which is where new tourism and hospitality centered businesses will be located. This represents another first for the museum on the south lakefront region. The project also includes the Jesse White Research Library and Gallery, the Dr. Lyn Hughes BSCP Ladies Auxiliary Women’s History Museum, and additional structures to be announced as the project progresses.

“Pullman Porters Row will impact the entire region and will be unlike any other tourism district in the nation,” said Hughes. “The project is designed to include training for community residents through our collaborative partnerships with the labor community along with wrap-around services  to ensure residents are ready to work during the construction phase and prepared to benefit from the projected revenue from the anticipated 300,000+ tourists.”

Dash, the only non-labor or political representative on the roster, indicated his strong desire to speak at the groundbreaking as well as participate in the Museum’s annual free celebratory event “Urban Renaissance Event Series” which takes places from 2:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. and includes music, food, vendors, entertainment, speakers and engaging activities for children.

“Mr. Dash’s intended contributions will compliment the online and virtual activities we have implemented to keep patrons engaged throughout the museum’s construction period,” added Peterson.

In recent times, Dash has been unabashedly vocal about cultural appropriation and has become a public advocate for all things uplifting cultural economic development. Dash shared that he is impressed with the unique direction that the National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum has taken to ward off the “cultural appropriation” and the historic, cultural niche it has created in its 27-year existence in the Pullman District.

“This project will be life changing for the residents of a community that has suffered neglect for decades,” added Hughes. “Ironically, the end result will enable residents to begin enjoying simple things that are often taken for granted by residents who live on the south end of the district just five blocks away.”

The estimated timeline for completion of the project is September 2023. For more information about the National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum, visit www.pullmanportermuseum.com.

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