Weightman, Phillip M. 1902-

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Philip M. Weightman was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in Jone 13, 1902. His father was Philip Mitchell Weightman, a contractor and butcher; his mother was Sarah Watts of Port Gibson, MS. In Vicksburg he attended St. Mary's Catholic School, the Cherry Street Public School, and Mrs. Johnson's School (during the summer months). Later he attended Sumner High School, at night, in St. Louis, MO.In the fall of 1917, at the age of fifteen, Weightman joined the Amalgamated Butcher Workmen in St. Louis. ...

From the description of Philip M. Weightman Papers 1944-1967. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 614069859

Philip M. Weightman was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in Jone 13, 1902. His father was Philip Mitchell Weightman, a contractor and butcher; his mother was Sarah Watts of Port Gibson, MS. In Vicksburg he attended St. Mary's Catholic School, the Cherry Street Public School, and Mrs. Johnson's School (during the summer months). Later he attended Sumner High School, at night, in St. Louis, MO.

In the fall of 1917, at the age of fifteen, Weightman joined the Amalgamated Butcher Workmen in St. Louis. He and his family had moved there from Vicksburg via Memphis in 1916. A year later, at sixteen, he cut his teeth in politics by organizing a get-out-the-vote drive in the old Fifth Ward, when his father, a precinct captain was taken ill. In the following years Weightman rose through the ranks in the packing houses of St. Louis and Chicago to respected stature in the labor movement.

At a St. Louis Labor Day Parade organized by the Butcher Workmen in 1918, Weightman experienced his first unpleasant act of discrimination. After the parade the union has a celebration and served food. He was standing in line when someone told him had to "get on the other line." This union attitude hurt him deeply; he left the event vowing that he would never join another union.

Following his marriage to Eulalia Mays in 1920, he worked for several packing companies, and, after an involvement with the Al Smith presidential campaign, moved to Chicago in 1930. In 1937 he helped to organize Local 28 of the Packinghouse Workers, CIO, and became Chief Steward in his plant. In 1943 he became First International Vice-President of the United Packinghouse Workers, a post that he held until 1948 when he joined the staff of the CIO's Political Action Committee (PAC). CIO President Philip Murray selected Weightman for a special assignment in Panama to reorganize the administrative structure of the Government Employees Union there. He served as a Field Director for CIO-PAC from 1948 to 1955, and when the AFL and the CIO merged in 1955, he became a Field Director of the newly formed Committee on Political Education (COPE). In 1960 COPE Director James L. McDevitt named him Assistant National Director of COPE.

Weightman was also involved in community and civil rights activities. He was a member of the Chicago Human Rights Committee, First Vice-President of the Chicago NAACP, and a founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; and he often served as a consultant for the National Urban League and other groups. He worked tirelessly to increase black voter registration in the North and South, and formed alliances with other minority groups, in particular Puerto-Rican Americans and other Latino communities. His efforts on behalf of voter registration contributed to some crucial electoral victories. He played an active role in the Congressional elections of 1954, convincing his colleagues to emphasize economic as well as civil rights issues.

Among his notable achievements were the defeat of right-to-work proposals in California and Ohio, a record turnout of black voters for Senator Kefauver in Tennessee in 1959; helping build the overwhelming minority vote for John F. Kennedy in 1960; and upset New Jersey election of Richard Hughes for governor in 1961.

Upon his mandatory retirement in 1967 he was hired by the Office of Economic Opportunity as a Supervisory Labor Relations Specialist. He served as principal contact for those with questions concerning interpretation and application of labor-management agreements, unfair labor practices complaints, third party involvement in the agency labor relations program, and other related matters. Weightman retired completely from government employment in 1980.

From the guide to the Philip M. Weightman Papers, 1944-1967, (Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives)

Philip M. Weightman (1902-), an African-American labor union official and civil rights activist, was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, on June 13, 1902. His father, Philip Mitchell Weightman, was a contractor and butcher; his mother was Sarah Watts of Port Gibson, Mississippi. In Vicksburg Weightman attended St. Mary's Catholic School, the Cherry Street Public School, and Mrs. Johnson's School (during the summer months). He and his family moved to St. Louis in 1916, where he attended Sumner High School, at night. In 1917, at 15, he cut his teeth on politics when he organized a get out the vote drive in the old Fifth Ward, pinch hitting for his father who was a precinct captain and had suddenly been taken ill. That same year, Weightman, who had worked in his father's meat market in Vicksburg, joined the Amalgamated Meatcutters and Butchers Union in St. Louis. It was at a Labor Day parade, 1918, sponsored by the union that Weightman experienced an unpleasant act of discrimination that he remembered all his life. After the parade the union had a celebration and served food. He was standing in line when someone told him that he had to "get on the other line." This union attitude hurt him deeply. He left the celebration vowing that he would never join another union. He did not keep his word, however, for in the following years Weightman rose through the ranks of the slaughtering floors of packing houses in St. Louis and Chicago to respected stature in the labor movement. He also continued to hone his skills in mainstream politics, developing political "know how" that earned him a national reputation as an election-winner. He lost a few campaigns he was involved with, but his amazing successes in key battles overshadowed the failures.

Following his marriage in 1920 to the former Lululia Mays, he joined the Swift Packing, Company. After a stay at the Krey Packing Company, from 1926 to 1930, and involvement with A1 Smith's campaign for President, he moved to Chicago where he was again employed for many years at Swift and Company. In 1937 he helped organize Local #28 of the Packinghouse Workers CIO where he became the Chief Steward in the plant. In 1943 he was elected First International Vice President of the United Packinghouse Workers, a post which he held until 1948, when he joined the staff of the Political Action Committee (PAC) of the CIO. Philip Murray, then President of the CIO, selected him shortly after that for a special assignment in Panama to reorganize the administrative structure of the Government Employees Union there. He completed this mission in 90 days.

Weightman was also involved in community and civil rights activities. He was a member of the Chicago Human Rights Committee, Co Chairman of the Defense Bond Drive and the Red Cross Blood Bank at the Swift Plant, and First Vice President, Chicago, NAACP. He participated in the founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and on numerous occasions was a consultant for the National Urban League and other ad hoc groups. He served as a Field Director for PAC from 1948 to 1955. When the AFL anti the CIO merged in 1955, Weightman became a Field Director of the newly formed Committee on Political Education (COPE). In 1960, COPE Director, James L. McDevitt, named him as Assistant National Director. Weightman operated on the practical political premise that the black vote, combined with the liberal elements of labor and the Democratic Party, could win major elections. He worked tirelessly year round to increase black voter registration in the North and the South. He also formed alignments with other minority groups, including Puerto Ricans and Spanish Americans. His work carried him well over most of the 50 states.

In 1940, he was "loaned" by PAC to work in the campaign of Harry Truman, whom he admired greatly. The Weightman prognosis was that Truman could win with the black and labor vote, so he stumped the country on behalf of this candidate. With an able team of one man and one woman and some part time help, he managed over the years to increase voter registration in several Southern states and carry some crucial elections. A pilot project in Birmingham, seat of Jefferson County, increased black registration from, 5,000 to 11,000. Weightman also played a key role in the 1954 Congressional elections, by convincing his colleagues in PAC that emphasis should be shifted from civil rights to economic issues. Under his direction, PAC got out pictorial news spread on unemployment among blacks. Some of his notable achievements were: 1958, the defeat of right to work, proposals in Ohio and California; 1955, the record turnout of black voters in Tennessee for Senator Kefauver; 1960, the overwhelming minority vote for John F. Kennedy; 1961, the "miracle of New Jersey" in which Judge Richard Hughes won over former Secretary of Labor James P. Mitchell.

Upon his mandatory retirement in 1967 he was hired by the Office of Economic Opportunity as a Supervisory Labor Management Relations Specialist. He provided top management with specialized advice on matters pertaining to labor management cooperation, as well as serving as an overviewer and advisor for ten regional programs with labor liaison functions. He served as a principal contact for those with questions concerning interpretation and application of the labor management agreements, unfair labor practice complaints, third party involvement in the agency labor relations program, and other matters related to that discipline. Weightman retired from government Employment in February 1980. He currently resides in Washington, D.C. He had two children, (Mrs.) Eulalia Luke and Leonard; his son is now deceased.

From the guide to the Philip M. Weightman Photographs, Bulk, 1944-1959, 1944-1960s, (Bulk 1940s-1950s), (Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Weightman, Phillip M. 1902-. Philip M. Weightman Papers 1944-1967. New York University, Tamiment Library
creatorOf Philip M. Weightman Papers, 1944-1967 Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives
creatorOf Philip M. Weightman Photographs, Bulk, 1944-1959, 1944-1960s, (Bulk 1940s-1950s) Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education. corporateBody
associatedWith Barkan, Alexander E. person
associatedWith Congress of Industrial Organizations (U.S.). Political Action Committee. corporateBody
associatedWith Davis, Bette, 1908-1989 person
associatedWith Davis, Earl Wayne person
associatedWith Davis, Earl Wayne. person
associatedWith Duke Ellington Orchestra. corporateBody
associatedWith Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (U.S.). corporateBody
associatedWith Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967 person
associatedWith Moore, Harry T., d. 1951 person
associatedWith Mulzac, Hugh, 1886- person
associatedWith National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. corporateBody
associatedWith Neal, Fannie person
associatedWith Neal, Fannie. person
associatedWith Reuther, Walter, 1908-1970 person
associatedWith Strayhorn, Billy person
associatedWith United Packinghouse Workers of America. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. corporateBody
associatedWith Wallace, Henry A. (Henry Agard), 1888-1965 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York (N.Y.)
Chicago (Ill.)
Saint Louis (Mo.)
Subject
African Americans--Suffrage
Voter registration
African American labor leaders
African Americans--Civil rights
African American labor union members
Civil rights workers
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1902

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