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Scranton, PA- The theme of 2007's National Park Week is “Your National Parks: Explore, Learn, and Protect.” Steamtown National Historic Site, in partnership with AMS Production Group, Dallas, TX, will celebrate the event with the northeastern Pennsylvania premiere of the critically acclaimed film, “Rising from the Rails: The Story of the Pullman Porter.” The film will be shown at the site’s 250-seat surround sound theater on Sunday,
April 22 and Saturday, April 28 at 2:00 p.m.
“Rising From The Rails: The Story of the Pullman Porter” tells the story of the Pullman Porter and the making of the black middle class. Based on the best-selling book by Larry Tye, this high-definition documentary chronicles the relatively unheralded Pullman Porters, 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.
Following the Civil War, George Pullman began recruiting black men as porters on his new luxurious rail cars. They were hired because of their strong work ethic and disarming dispositions. They epitomized Pullman’s vision of safe, reliable, and invisible servants. For over a century, in the intimate confines of railcars that traversed the nation, the Pullman Porter served as waiter, nanny, valet, concierge, and occasionally confidant to well-heeled white passengers. He also endured grueling workloads, daily indignities, and outright humiliations with a duty-bound smile that belied his strength and determination.
With steady jobs and worldly views, Pullman Porters enjoyed a different reputation in black communities. They were respected as stalwarts of the economy and emissaries of news, culture, and ideas from the outside world. They became trailblazers in the struggle for African American dignity and self-sufficiency, patriarchs of black labor unions, and helped give birth to the Civil Rights Movement.
The Pullman porter’s story has special resonance now, as America recently commemorated the death of Montgomery bus boycott pioneer Rosa Parks and celebrated the 50th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling and the 40th anniversary of the historic March on Washington. The lead attorney in the Brown case, Thurgood Marshall, once worked on the railroads and his father was a train porter, while the lead organizer of the civil rights march, A. Philip Randolph, was president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Another Pullman Porter, Edgar D. Nixon, launched the Montgomery bus boycott that sparked the civil rights movement – and tapped Martin Luther King Jr. to lead both.
The Entrance Fee to the grounds at Steamtown is $6.00 per adult, ages 17 and older. Those under 16, accompanied by an adult, are admitted to the Park at no cost. All National Park Week events offered by Steamtown NHS are included in the Entrance Fee. Located in downtown Scranton, Pennsylvania, Steamtown NHS is open daily from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. From I-81, follow exit 185 (Central Scranton Expressway); then follow the signs to the main entrance at Lackawanna and Cliff Avenues. Additional details regarding interpretive and educational programs and activities may be obtained by calling (570) 340-5200 or toll free (888) 693-9391, or by visiting the Steamtown NHS web site at www.nps.gov/stea.
- NPS -