Legacy of the Railroad

Former Amtrack Porter George Lewis to Speak June 18

Placeholder imageThe Galveston Railroad Museum will present the second speaker of the 2022 Oral History Program, Legacy of the Railroad, featuring Pullman Porter George Lewis on Saturday, June 18 beginning at 1pm at the train depot. The public is invited to attend.

George Lewis had a front row seat to the American Civil Rights Movement growing up in a railroad family, and specifically, how it impacted the future careers of Pullman Porters.

American labor unionist and civil rights activist, A. Philip Randolph was made aware of the long working hours and low wages of Pullman Porters who were hired to serve white passengers aboard its luxury railroad sleeping cars. As a result, Randolph helped organize the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the nation’s first successful African American led Labor union.

It was the first Black union to be chartered by the American Federation of Labor (AFL). A collective bargaining agreement and contract was signed with Pullman that recognized the union and reduced porters’ monthly work hours and raised wages.

Lewis began his career with the Southern Pacific Railroad, which was sold to Denver Rio Grande Railroad and then to Union Pacific. Amtrak eventually acquired and retained the passenger service from Southern Pacific Railroad.

Lewis, like so many railroad employees, moved through the ranks prior to becoming a porter where he had the experience of meeting and serving numerous famous passengers, including President and Mrs. George H.W. Bush. Retiring in 2017, Lewis said, “I would do it all again, yes, I would.”

George Lewis will speak at the Galveston Railroad Museum to share his history with the railroad, experiences, and what it means to be a Pullman Porter. Reception to follow presentation.

The museum currently has a Pullman Porter exhibit on view that relates the history, uniforms, photos and artifacts from this important part of American history.

Located at 2602 Santa Fe Place, the museum is open daily 10am – 5pm, and offers complimentary parking. Admission for adults is $12, seniors $9, students 12 yrs. and under $6, and under three are free.

For additional information call 409.765.5700 or visit www.GalvestonRRMuseum.org.