Episode 22: Bae-yard Rustin: The Man Behind the March

February means love and Black history, so join Gretchen and Leigh as they celebrate both by diving into into the life and work of civil rights activist Bayard Rustin! Due to his being gay, Rustin’s role as advisor to Martin Luther King, Jr. and in organizing the 1963 March on Washtington was actively erased for several decades. Fortunately, he’s been gaining more recognition in recent years and both queer history and civil rights history is actively recovering his memory and legacy. Whether it be for his pacifism, being gay, protesting all over the world, or riding a bus, Rustin was arrested over 25 times. He was a man who stood up for injustice wherever he saw it, even in prison! So join us as we talk about one of the most impactful but least well-known activists of the civil rights movement.  

A Closer Look at Bayard Rustin

Bayard Rustin’s Grandmother Julia Rustin.

Bayard Rustin’s Grandmother Julia Rustin.

School photo with Bayard Rustin (center), Photo Courtesy of the Chester County, Pennsylvania, Historical Society.

School photo with Bayard Rustin (center), Photo Courtesy of the Chester County, Pennsylvania, Historical Society.

Bayard Rustin’s mug shot from his 1944 arrest for resisting the draft.

Bayard Rustin’s mug shot from his 1944 arrest for resisting the draft.

Rustin in the late 1940s. Photo courtesy of the Estate of Bayard Rustin.

Rustin in the late 1940s. Photo courtesy of the Estate of Bayard Rustin.

Rustin protesting in Washington in the late 1940s. Photo courtesy of the Estate of Bayard Rustin.

Rustin protesting in Washington in the late 1940s. Photo courtesy of the Estate of Bayard Rustin.

Bayard Rustin and Cleveland Robinson with a sign advertising the march on washington, 1963.

Bayard Rustin and Cleveland Robinson with a sign advertising the march on washington, 1963.

Rustin and A. Philip Randolph on the cover of  life  magazine, from the march on Washington, 1963.

Rustin and A. Philip Randolph on the cover of life magazine, from the march on Washington, 1963.

Program from the 1963 march on washington.

Program from the 1963 march on washington.

Rustin at the headquarters for the Citywide Committee for Integration in New York City, 1964.

Rustin at the headquarters for the Citywide Committee for Integration in New York City, 1964.

Rustin speaking at the ralley for school integration at City hall in New York, 1964.

Rustin speaking at the ralley for school integration at City hall in New York, 1964.

Rustin and Martin Luther King, Jr., 1965.

Rustin and Martin Luther King, Jr., 1965.

Bayard Rustin with walter Neagle, his partner from 1977 to Rustin’s death in 1987.

Bayard Rustin with walter Neagle, his partner from 1977 to Rustin’s death in 1987.

rustin at Trafalgar’s Square, 1983.

rustin at Trafalgar’s Square, 1983.

If you want to learn more about Bayard Rustin, check out our full list of sources and further reading below!

Online Articles:

Books and Print Articles:

  • Bayard Rustin: Behind the Scenes of the Civil Rights Movement by James Haskins

  • Bayard Rustin: Troubles I’ve Seen, A Biography by Jervis Anderson

  • Queer, There, and Everywhere by Sarah Prager

  • Time on Two Crosses: The Collected Writings of Bayard Rustin, ed. By Devon W. Carbado and Donald Weise

  • “Remembering Bayard Rustin” by John D’Emilio, in the OAH Magazine of History, Vol. 20, No. 2, History is Sexuality (March 2006)

  • “Humanrights Hero: Remembering Bayard Rustin” by Walter Neagle, in Human Rights, Vol. 40, No. , The Fierce Urgency of Now: 50 YEARS LATER

  • “Bayard Rustin’s Brief Encounters with Higher Education”, in The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, No. 16

Videos, Interviews, and Other Audio-visual Media:

Until next time, stay queer and stay curious!