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Layle Lane

Layle Lane

Layle Lane

Born in 1898, Layle Lane was a toddler when a vow to lynch her Congregational minister father forced the family to flee their Marrietta, Ga. home.

A graduate of Howard University with a master's from Columbia, she became a high school social studies teacher at Benjamin Franklin HS and an early member of the Teachers Union and later the Teachers Guild, serving on its executive board.

She ran for elective office under the Socialist Party, including three times for Congress.

Lane helped A. Philip Randolph organize the Pullman porters into the first black union and later joined him in planning the July 1941 March on Washington. Though the march was called off, it pressured President Roosevelt to issue the landmark Fair Employment Practices Order which opened government jobs to blacks.

She fought to end discrimination in public housing and segregation in the military, and used a sabbatical leave in 1937 to organize black teachers in the south for the AFT.

An AFT vice president, she pushed for an end to segregated locals and was a critic of unions in the skilled trades for excluding blacks. Lane was part of a slate which swept to power and ousted the communist-led faction in the AFT in 1940.

A longtime fixture in Harlem, for years she footed the bill for a camp for poor black kids on her farm in Pennsylvania.