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the train, and he told me about his experience with Roosevelt, and
the march on Washington.
You're talking about Roosevelt, so you mean the threat of the
first march on Washington in the early 1940's, right?
Absolutely. We were talking about the one that led
eventually, after a great deal of poker-playing, to the FEPC [Fair
Employment Practices Commission]. Roosevelt was very reluctant about
it. Randolph was telling me about Roosevelt's reluctance, and
Eleanor Roosevelt's aid in trying to get Franklin Roosevelt to
understand what blacks were saying and demanding. The thing I
remember, ultimately, he said, “I guess I wonder what would've
happened if he had continued to resist. I don't know whether I
would've been able to carry it off.” But he was very positive in
describing Eleanor Roosevelt's role.
As I remember some accounts of his meeting with Washington (I
believe it was in a profile done in the New York Times of A. Philip
Randolph, which was titled “Gadfly to Presidents”), he apparently
remained quite firm in his position with Roosevelt. Roosevelt was
quoted as saying something like, “Now Phil, you can't go at this with
hammer and tongs.” So Mr. Randolph continued to go at it with hammer
and tongs. Roosevelt was then quoted as having said after Mr.
Randolph left his office, “I guess he's not going to give. We're
going to have to do something about this.” Did A. Philip Randolph
say something like this to you when he discussed that first march?
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