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Thu, 03.17.1910

Bayard Rustin, Activist born

Bayard Rustin

*On this date, in 1910, Bayard Rustin was born. He was a Black Gay activist and principal organizer of the 1963 March on Washington.

Rustin was from West Chester, Pennsylvania. One of twelve children, he was impacted by American Civil Rights 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, was effective enough to force then-President, Franklin Roosevelt to issue an executive order banning demonstrations against industries with government contracts.

As an early Freedom Rider, 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 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, who was personally associated with and active in the LGBT community all his life, died on August 24, 1987.



The African American Atlas
Black History & Culture an Illustrated Reference
by Molefi K. Asanta and Mark T. Mattson
Macmillan 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

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