Civil Rights Legend & Labor Leader
As a young man, he worked
alongside America’s civil rights pioneers. Now as President
of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, Norman Hill’s steadfast
leadership has improved the lives of black workers everywhere.
In the 1960's, A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin were tireless
Civil Rights crusaders. As they traveled throughout the country, one
young activist often appeared alongside them. What Randolph and Rustin
saw in this young man—charisma, intelligence, and unwavering
commitment to social justice—soon became known to millions of
Hill was born in 1933 in Summit, New Jersey. His education at prestigious
Haverford College combined with service in uniform gave Hill a broad
understanding of the chasms separating white and black America. In
1959, having fulfilled his military duty, Norman Hill joined the Civil
Hill's first national event was the Second Youth March on Washington
in 1959. As the story goes, young Norman was happy in his behind-the-scenes
role. But when he was called upon to speak, he eloquently rose to
the occasion. Now some forty years and a thousand speeches later,
we thank whoever it was who told young Norman Hill to stand where
he belonged—behind the podium and before the people.
Following this successful march, Hill began work for the Congress
of Racial Equality. As National Program Director, he was instrumental
in the Route 40 restaurant desegregation campaign, the 1963 March
on Washington, and protests at the 1964 Republican National Convention.
moved to the AFL-CIO, working from 1964-1967 as a lobbyist on Capitol
Hill. In addition to Hill’s efforts on issues such as the minimum
wage, he helped coordinate Dr. King’s six-city “get out
the vote” tour in 1964. He also served on the labor delegation
of the historic Selma-Montgomery march.
In 1964, Rustin and Randolph asked Hill to
join them at the A. Philip Randolph Institute, an organization fighting
for equality and justice through organized labor. From 1967-1974,
Hill served as Associate Director of the Institute. In 1975, he was
named Executive Director. And in 1980, he became President—a
position he still holds today.
As President, Norman Hill has expanded APRI’s
reach while holding true to its original mission. Some 200 new chapters
have opened during his tenure, and ARPI has led many nonpartisan voter
education and registration drives. Minorities employed in the building
trades owe a particular debt of gratitude to Mr. Hill, whose leadership
was central to initiatives such as the Joint Apprenticeship Program.
In addition to his tireless work on behalf
of APRI, Norman Hill serves on multiple boards and committees. He
has traveled extensively overseas, particularly to Africa, where he
observed the first free elections in South Africa. Today’s Civil
Rights activists look to Norman Hill for inspiration and leadership
in the fight for equality and justice. His legacy extends across America—from
shop floors to polling booths to thriving working-class neighborhoods.