As Black History Month comes to a close, On the Line marks the occasion with a fascinating look back at the history of train sleeping car porters, almost all of whom were Black. It's a story that has only recently started to be told, and combines the history of Black employment in Canada, unionization and the fight for dignity and equality.
We examine those long lost days mostly through the voice of Warren Williams, whose Uncle Lee was in the forefront of the drive to organize Sleeping Car Porters in Canada. Warren is the current President of CUPE Local 15 (Vancouver), one of the biggest CUPE locals in Canada.
Listen to Warren's full interview here: https://vimeo.com/793211236
FEATURED MUSIC: Theme song: "Hold the Fort" - Arranged & Performed by Tom Hawken & his band, 1992. Part of the "On to Ottawa" film produced by Sara Diamond.
"Too Too Train Blues" - Performed by Big Bill Broozy
"Midnight Train" - Performed by Oscar Peterson
RESEARCH: Research and script for this episode by Patricia Wejr & Rod Mickleburgh. Our thanks to Warren Williams for sharing his family's story as part of the BC Labour Heritage Centre Oral History Project in Feb. 2021, an interview which the clips in this episode are featured from.
Travis Tomchuk. Black sleeping car porters: The struggle for Black labour rights on Canada’s railways. Retrieved from https://humanrights.ca/story/sleeping-car-porters