The powerful true story of the first black-controlled union, The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. This 2002 production was initially brought to Cyrus Nowrasteh by Executive Producer Stan Margulies (ROOTS) and Nowrasteh welcomed the challenge to bring this controversial and inspiring tale to life. Controversial because its hero is an African-American socialist, and inspiring because he led a fight against one of the most powerful corporations in America.
When the Great Depression struck America in the 1920s finding work was hard, but if you were poor and black it was virtually impossible. Working as a porter for the Pullman Rail Company was an option, but it meant taking home a third as much as white employees and working some days for free. You could forget about being called by your real name — all black porters were simply called “George” after George Pullman, the first person to employ emancipated slaves.
Asa Philip Randolph, a black journalist and educated socialist trying to establish a voice for these forgotten workers, agrees to fight for the Pullman porters’ cause and form the first black union in America. Livelihoods and lives would be put at risk in the attempt to gain 10,000 signatures of the men known only as “George.” This is the true story of how a courageous leader came to be known as “the most dangerous man in America.”
Nowrasteh won the 2003 PEN USA WEST Literary Award for Best Teleplay. It is the only time in PEN history that a writer has won an award in the same catergory two years in a row (Mr. Nowrasteh won for THE DAY REAGAN WAS SHOT in 2002).