From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Redd, Thomas D.

(born: 1866  -  died: 1944) Thomas Redd was a civil rights leader in the the railroad industry. A brakeman on the Illinois Central Railroad, he was based in Louisville, KY. Redd had been with the company since 1895.

Due to his persistent appeals for fairness to Negro railroad employers, Redd was known as a troublemaker among the company officials. He was a member of the Louisville Chapter Lodge #10 of the Association of Colored Railway Trainmen and Locomotive Firemen (ACRTLF), founded in 1912. Redd was elected chair of the organization's grievance committee in 1920 and later became president. The Illinois Central did not recognize the organization.

Redd fought for more than a decade to secure equal pay, job security, and employment advancement for Colored railroad employees but with little success, so he launched an even larger campaign that led to the development of the International Association of Railway Employees (IARE).

The IARE held a conference in Chicago in 1934, and all Black railroad organizations were invited to send delegates. A second meeting was held in Washington, D.C., and Redd was named president of IARE, an umbrella organization with 28 member organizations from 16 states, including Kentucky. With legal representation by attorneys Charles Hamilton Houston and Joseph Waddy, and after years of fighting, the IARE began to see changes made to the labor laws.

Thomas Redd was born in Hart County, KY, the son of William James Redd and Mary Ophelia Redd, according to his death certificate. He was the husband of Annie Redd. In 1900, the family of three lived on Gallagher Street in Louisville. Redd was a widower when he died in Louisville on July 22, 1944. For more see Brotherhoods of Color, by E. Arnesen. See also the Thomas Redd Papers at the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center: identifier 2004ms001 / accession date 2015-10-06; and the Guide to the Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: Thomas D. Redd record books, 1895-1923, EAD ID 2009ms132.0661.

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NKAA Source: Brotherhoods of color : black railroad workers and the struggle for equality

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“Redd, Thomas D.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed April 21, 2024,

Last modified: 2020-10-23 13:01:40