My Life as I Have Lived It: The Autobiography of Rosina Corrothers-Tucker, 1881-1987


Rosina Harvey was born November 4, 1881 in Washington, D.C. Her detailed recollections of her family, neighborhood and church (as well as her leadership role in America’s first successful black labor union) paint a vivid portrait of her life and times in the nation’s capital. “The Washington I grew up in, which then had a population of fewer than 300,000, was a very agreeable place, virtually free of slums and relatively free of crime.”

During her lifetime, Mrs. Tucker witnessed significant historical events, major social change, and technological advancements. She saw the mode of transportation evolve from horse and carriage, and trolley cars, to the variety of vehicles involved in the congested traffic of the 1980s. The daughter of former slaves, she attended Washington’s prestigious M Street (later Dunbar) High School and became an accomplished pianist, composer, and music teacher. In her youth, she heard tales of slavery from the mouths of former slaves. She attended the funeral of Frederick Douglass in 1895 and witnessed the Washington Race Riot of 1919. She participated in the March on Washington in 1963, and experienced, in her lifetime, the growth and death of segregation in the District of Columbia. Her first husband was the eminent poet and minister James David Corrothers. After his premature death, she married a second time to Berthea Johnson Tucker, a Pullman Porter, and in 1925 she helped to found the Brotherhood of Sleeping-Car Porters, the first successful African-American labor union in the United States. For most of its existence, she served as Secretary-Treasurer of its Ladies Auxiliary. For many years an elder at Washington’s Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church, she was also active in civic and community work. As she approached her hundredth birthday, she became a national celebrity, giving lectures and making appearances on television, recounting her years as a labor and civil rights activist. A year before her death at 1987, she was participating in a picket of a local supermarket. “Although I live far removed from the time I was born, I do not feel that my heart should dwell in the past. It is in the future. Each day added to another has culminated in growth that has led to my present experience and made me the person I am today and will be tomorrow.” An index to full-names, places and subjects adds to the value of this work.

C. Bernard Ruffin

2012, 5½x8½, paper, 312 pp.

ISBN: 9780788453649