As part of this past Sunday’s Juneteenth celebration, the National Black Railroaders Historical Society, which was founded by Alan Laird and Femi Folami-Browne, honored their ancestors and the thousands of Black men, and a smaller number of Black women, who worked on or around the trains.
For nearly a year, the two have had a cache of Black railroad memorabilia on display at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in southwest Miami-Dade County.
During the heyday of rail travel between Miami and points north, Laird’s father was a cook and Folami-Browne’s grandfather was rail worker.
Laird and Folami-Browne’s devotion thrills Lovette McGill, president of the Miami-Dade chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute. It is an organization for African American trade unionists named after Randolph, the late president emeritus of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, which he built.
Until now, says McGill, “We have forgotten the history that Blacks helped build, from laying tracks to repairing trains.”
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