Rising from The Rails: The Story of the Pullman Porter chronicles the legacy of the Pullman Porter. Generations of African American men who served as caretakers to wealthy white passengers on luxury trains that traversed the nation in the golden age of rail travel.
Rising from the Rails: The Story of the Pullman Porter tells the history of the black pullman porter. George Pullman began recruiting Southern blacks as porters in his luxurious new sleeping cars in 1859. The former slaves were suffering under Jim Crow laws at the time. They found his offer of a steady job and worldly experience, irresistible. The former black slaves quickly signed up. They served as maids, waiters, concierges and nannies. Occasionally they also served as doctors and undertakers. Since there were restrictions on blacks riding the railroads, they catered to cars full of white passengers. George Pullman’s company, the Pullman Company, became the largest employer of African Americans in the country by the 1920s.
Rising from The Rails: The Story of the Pullman Porter was written from extensive interviews with dozens of porters and their descendants. Larry Tye reconstructs the complicated world of the Pullman porter in the book. The book explains how their jobs influenced the African American cultural, politics and economic status of the pullman porter. The porters played the role as the forerunners of the modern black middle class.
Rising from The Rails: The Story of the Pullman Porter documents the abuse of the porters and other black workers by many of the white travelers on the Pullman sleepers. The book explains the requirements to become a Pullman porter. From the interview of the porters, it outlines their duties and services rendered to the passengers. It tells the story of the struggles the porters had to unionize. The book also explains the porter’s union role in the civil rights movement.
Rising from The Rails: The Story of the Pullman Porter provides a lively and enlightening look at this important social phenomenon. The book gives the reader an idea of what the porters had to go through, from their own words.