*A. PHILIP RANDOLPH — (Born April 15, 1889, in Crescent City, Fla.; died May 16, 1979, in New York City) Concerned over the treatment of black workers on railroads, Randolph organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in 1925, the first union of predominantly black workers granted a charter by the American Federation of Labor. Randolph played a key role in persuading President Franklin D. Roosevelt to establish the Fair Employment Practices Committee in 1941. He wanted to stage a civil rights march on Washington that year, but Roosevelt was concerned about potential violence. Randolph organized the League for Nonviolent Civil Disobedience Against Military Segregation. The league's efforts prompted President Harry S. Truman in 1948 to issue an executive order banning segregation in the armed forces. Randolph was one of King's closest advisers and was one of the main organizers of the 1963 March on Washington.
*ROY WILKINS — (Born Aug. 30, 1901, in St. Louis; died Sept. 8, 1981, in New York City) The grandson of a Mississippi slave, Wilkins was a tireless activist in the cause of civil rights, leading the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from 1931 to 1977. He helped lead the legal battle against school segregation that resulted in the 1954 Supreme Court decision outlawing "separate but equal" public schools. He is credited by many with being the driving force behind the passage of the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act.
*WHITNEY YOUNG — (Born July 31, 1921, in Lincoln Ridge, Ky.; died March 11, 1971, in Lagos, Nigeria) Young became active in the civil rights movement while a graduate student in social work at the University of Minnesota. He joined the National Urban League, an organization devoted to protecting the rights of minorities. He was dean of the Atlanta University School of Social Work from 1954 to 1961, and became active with King and other Southern civil rights leaders during his tenure there. From 1961 until his death he was executive director of the Urban League. As an adviser to President Lyndon B. Johnson, Young had a major influence on federal antipoverty policies in the 1960s.