Bayard Rustin

Wikipedia’s bio on Bayard Rustin:

Bayard Rustin (March 17, 1912 – August 24, 1987) was an African-American civil rights activist, important largely behind the scenes in the civil rights movement of the 1960s and earlier and principal organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. He counseled Martin Luther King, Jr. on the techniques of nonviolent resistance. Rustin was openly gay and advocated on behalf of gay and lesbian causes in the latter part of his career.

A year before his death in 1987, Rustin said: “The barometer of where one is on human rights questions is no longer the black community, it’s the gay community. Because it is the community which is most easily mistreated.”


  1. He was born in the same place I grew up in, they named the newest high sch after him. 🙂 Of course, there was some debate cause he was gay so god forbid they name something after a gay person… 😛

  2. This morning I visited an elderly couple I know. The gentleman, Bernie, is 90yo, and has the distinction of being one of the civil rights organizers during the movement.

    I thought of this C-C post, and asked him if he remembered someone, I couldn’t remember the name, but he was a black openly gay organizer…and Bernie interrupted me with “Oh, you mean Bayard Rustin. He was my best friend. We were in the NYC group together. You know, he initially came up with the march on Washington…” as so on. More Bayard Rustin information than I’d ever remember. Bernie spoke at his funeral.

    Bernie is one of the people I know through my UU church. I should really just bring a tape recorder and interview the guy.

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