The History of Black Railroad Station Porters and Grand Central Terminal (In Person)
Program Type:History & Genealogy
Eric K. Washington is New York City-based independent historian and award-winning author. Washington’s lecture will draw heavily from his years of archival research and from his acclaimed 2019 book Boss of the Grips: The Life of James H. Williams and the Red Caps of Grand Central Terminal.
In Boss of the Grips, Washington uncovers the nearly forgotten life of James H. Williams, the Chief Porter of Grand Central Terminal’s Red Caps—a multitude of Harlem-based black men whom he organized into the central labor force of America’s most prestigious train station. Examining the deeply entwined subjects of class, labor, and African American history, Washington’s latest book revives the story of a Harlem Renaissance-era labor figure who navigated segregation to achieve social and financial influence.
Boss of the Grips is the winner of the Herbert H. Lehman Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in New York History, GANYC Apple Award for Outstanding Book Writing, and a finalist for the Brendan Gill Prize.