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Pullman Porters: Ordinary Men, Extraordinary History

They made a mark in civil rights and upward mobility for African Americans.

They made beds and cleaned toilets. They shined shoes, dusted jackets, cooked meals, and washed dishes. Yet the Pullman porters created history in the face of adversity and racial prejudice. They helped form the foundation for the black middle class, and became instrumental in the civil rights movement.

Follow two former porters as they travel from their homes in Seattle to Oakland, Calif., where they were honored by Amtrak and the A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum for their years of service.

Troy Walker (pictured at left) worked for the Santa Fe Railroad and Amtrak from 1944-1971. Walker was promoted from a dining car waiter to a lounge car attendant and finally a supervisor, when he retired after 37 years of working on the railroad.

The son of a Pullman porter, Thomas H. Gray worked on the Santa Fe Railroad from 1955-1959. Gray was able to work as a chair car attendant for four summers while earning his college degree. He went on to work for Boeing for 32 years.

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