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Thu, 03.17.1910

Bayard Rustin fought racism on the frontlines

Bayard Rustin

*On this date, in 1910, Bayard Rustin was born. He was an African American civil rights activist and principal organizer of the 1963 March on Washington.

Rustin was from West Chester, Pennsylvania. One of twelve children, he was impacted in the name of civil right as a teenager. While on a trip with his mostly white high school football team, he was thrown out of a restaurant because he was Black.  He was a member of the Young Communist League for a brief time in 1936, and the FBI used this association to discredit him.  He worked closely with A. Phillip Randolph and, together, they were effective enough to force then President, Franklin Roosevelt, to issue an executive order banning demonstrations against industries with government contracts.

Tennessee police brutally beat Rustin as a voting rights activist for not moving to the back of a bus in 1942.  He spent 22 days on a chain gang after a 1947 arrest in North Carolina for participating in a Freedom Ride.  Rustin led the protest against British colonialism in India and was one of those who helped persuade President Truman to end segregation in the armed forces.  An important aide to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rustin helped organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

Bayard Rustin was personally associated and active in the LGBT community all of his life, he died on August 24, 1987.

The African American Atlas
Black History & Culture an Illustrated Reference
by Molefi K. Asanta and Mark T. Mattson
Macmillam USA, Simon & Schuster, New York
ISBN 0-02-864984-2

Memories of the Southern Civil Rights Movement
By Danny Lyon
Copyright 1992, University of North Carolina Press
ISBN 0-80782054-7

Civil Rights References

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