West ChesterBayard Rustin was born on March 17, 1912, in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Prior to his adolescence, Rustin was led to believe that his grandparents, Julia and Janifer Rustin, were his biological parents and that he had an older sister. In fact, Julia and Janifer were his grandmother and grandfather; his “older sister” was, in fact, his mother.
EducationRustin attended two historically Black colleges, Wilberforce University in Ohio and Cheyney State Teachers College in Pennsylvania; the latter evolved into the Cheney University of Pennsylvania. He attended the City College of New York in 1937 and became involved with the Young Communist League for a short stint. He soon became disillusioned by the group and quickly resigned.
ActivismRustin pulled from various political beliefs in order to create his personal philosophy: pacifism from the Quaker religion, non-violent resistance from Mahatma Gandhi, and socialism from A. Philip Randolph. Eventually, Rustin was able to work alongside Randolph, fighting against racial discrimination in the military during WWII. Rustin then worked with the Fellowship of Reconciliation, one of many pacifist groups that he became involved with. He served two years in prison for refusing to register for the draft. And when he protested against segregation in the public transit system in 1947, he was arrested again. He was then sentenced to work on a chain gang for several weeks.
OrganizerIn the early 1950s, Rustin was jailed for 60 days for engaging in homosexual activities. Despite his third jail stint, he lived openly as a homosexual man. He then became an expert in organizing human rights protests. In 1958, he organized the march in Aldermaston, England, resulting in 10,000 protestors demonstrating against nuclear weapons.
March on WashingtonRustin began working with Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1955, teaching him Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence. He advised MLK on how to best implement civil disobedience into his protesting. He assisted MLK in organizing the Montgomery Bus Boycotts in 1956 and he helped organize the 1963 March on Washington.
Later CareerBy 1965, Rustin had assisted Randolph by co-founding the A. Philip Randolph Institute. He then continued to work as a highly-sought-after public speaker within the civil rights and peace movement. Rustin later published ‘Down the Line’ (1971) and ‘Strategies for Freedom’ (1976), collections of writings about the civil rights movement.
LegacyRustin continued to advocate for economic equality, often speaking out against the financial disparities between the Black and White communities. He also advocated for social rights pertaining to the gay and lesbian community. Bayard Rustin died of a ruptured appendix on August 24, 1987, in New York City. He was 75 years old.
**The views and actions of the DDH historical figures that are featured may not reflect the views and beliefs of Ramiro The Writer or We Buy Black. Thank you.**Thank you all for reading my article. I’m a part of the largest online marketplace for Black-owned businesses called We Buy Black. Similar to Etsy or Amazon, this website allows for Black-owned businesses to create a shop and sell their amazing products to the world! If you have a product, you should definitely join this platform! We Buy Black also has it’s Inaugural We Buy Black Convention happening this November 16th-17th in Atlanta, GA and I hope to see you all there. In fact, I along with hundreds of others will be wearing our official We Buy Black T-shirt, so here’s my gift to you: Get 50% off the official WBB T-shirt using my code WBB2018. Peace, family!]]>