David A. Peterson Jr. is the president and executive director of the National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum located in Chicago. The Florida A&M University graduate began his career with the museum during college when he toured nationally for the NAPRPP museum and Amtrak as the coordinator for the museum’s traveling exhibit.
Prior to his role as president, Peterson established a youth and young adult program called MUSEUM 44 in honor of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama. Today, he controls the day to day operations of the Museum. In his role, he also focuses on partnership building, program development, and resource development.
We spoke with Peterson ahead of the museum’s 25th anniversary and the addition of the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. Wing.
What is the mission of your organization?
The National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum is a 501(c)(3) cultural institution. Our mission is to promote, honor and celebrate the legacy of A. Philip Randolph, Pullman Porters, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and contributions made by African Americans to America’s labor movement. As we educate the public about their historic legacy and the contributions they’ve made through the study, preservation, and interpretation of their stories that are inextricably intertwined.
How do you approach business challenges?
Fearlessly head-on with optimism, faith, discipline, and purpose. Understanding that the mission is bigger than yourself gives you the motivation needed to stand firm during hard times when you personally want to give up.
How do you evaluate the talent you are hiring? What are the skills that you are looking for in this market place?
Personal interviews based on referrals are the most effective way. At that point, we can gauge someone’s genuine interest in our subject matter.
What are the top three benefits of being a member of your organization?
You help keep a story and legacy alive.
You become a part of an international movement to preserve and interpret Black history, heritage, and culture.
You join a movement going uphill that will affect generations to come.
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