Rustin, Bayard

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Rustin, Bayard,

1910–87, African-American civil-rights leader, b. West Chester, Pa. He attended three colleges but did not obtain a degree. A Quaker, he was imprisoned as a conscientious objector for more than two years during World War II. Devoting much of his early career to pacifist activities, he was (1941–53) on the staff of the Fellowship of Reconciliation and headed (1953–55) the War Resisters League. In the early 1940s, Rustin also founded the New York branch of the Congress of Racial EqualityCongress of Racial Equality
(CORE), civil-rights organization founded (1942) in Chicago by James Farmer. Dedicated to the use of nonviolent direct action, CORE initially sought to promote better race relations and end racial discrimination in the United States.
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, and he soon became a key figure in the struggle for African-American civil rights. As special assistant (1955–60) to Martin Luther KingKing, Martin Luther, Jr.,
1929–68, American clergyman and civil-rights leader, b. Atlanta, Ga., grad. Morehouse College (B.A., 1948), Crozer Theological Seminary (B.D., 1951), Boston Univ. (Ph.D., 1955).
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, Jr., he helped set up the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and, more generally, played an influential role in infusing King's movement with the Gandhian philosophy of nonviolence (see Gandhi, MohandasGandhi, Mohandas Karamchand
, 1869–1948, Indian political and spiritual leader, b. Porbandar. In South Africa

Educated in India and in London, he was admitted to the English bar in 1889 and practiced law unsuccessfully in India for two years.
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. Later, working in association with A. Philip RandolphRandolph, Asa Philip,
1889–1979, U.S. labor leader, b. Crescent City, Fla., attended the College of the City of New York. As a writer and editor of the black magazine The Messenger, which he helped to found, Randolph became interested in the labor movement.
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, Rustin was the chief organizer of the massive 1963 March on Washington. From 1964 to 1987 he served as president of the Randolph Institute, a trade-union, educational, and civil-rights group. An openly gay man in a largely homophobic era, Rustin was usually obliged to employ his superb organizational and strategic skills behind the scenes.


See his collected writings in Down the Line (1971) and Time on Two Crosses (2003), ed. by D. W. Carbado and D. Weise; biographies by J. Anderson (1997) and J. D'Emilio (2003); studies by N. Dobrosky (1988), J. Haskins (1997), and D. Levine (1999); N. D. Kates and B. Singer, dir., Brother Outsider (documentary film, 2003).

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Rustin, Bayard

(1910–87) institute head, civil rights activist; born in West Chester, Pa. Schooled in literature and history at Cheyney State (Pa.) and Wilberforce (Ohio) Colleges, he joined the Young Communist League (1936) and became an organizer (1938). He also sang occasionally at a New York City nightclub with notables Josh White and Leadbelly. He left the Communist Party (1941) and joined the Fellowship of Reconciliation, a nonviolent antiwar group. In 1940–41, he helped A. Philip Randolph plan a threatened march on Washington to demand better job opportunities for blacks in the defense industrry. He served several jail terms in the 1940s; for conscientious objection during World War II (released 1945), for demonstrating in the American Indian independence movement, and for participating in a North Carolina "freedom ride" (1947). He was involved in various pacifist movements (1947–55), then joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) (1955) as Martin Luther King's special assistant, serving as the organizational coordinator for the SCLC March on Washington (1963). Named executive director of the newly founded A. Philip Randoph Institute (1964–87), he worked to promote programs to cure America's social and economic ills. Although over the years he advocated the orderly seizure of political power by activist blacks, white liberals, religious parties, and labor unions to effect a rebalance of national priorities, he never favored black separatism.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
Hero worship was not a requirement of our greatest heroes, as the biographies of Ella Baker and Bayard Rustin prove.
John D'Emilio's "Lost Prophet: Life and Times of Bayard Rustin," is a biography of an early civil rights leader, a Quaker pacifist who taught Martin Luther King Jr.
Bayard Rustin forged a remarkable career as a social activist.
Time on Two Crosses: The Collected Writings of Bayard Rustin Edited by Devon Carbado and Donald Weise Cleis Press.
In a divided world squabbling over a shrinking pie, identity politics can now "reproduce the very marginality that gay oppression attempts to enforce." D'Emilio makes a stirring case for moving beyond fragmented identity politics based on ethnicity or sexual orientation, and for an approach that "turns outward toward other communities and peoples," just as civil rights activist Bayard Rustin connected pacifism, trade unionism, and anti-colonialism to the emerging African-American freedom struggle of the 1950's.
Of all the Movement's strategists, the one least inclined to religious enthusiasm was Bayard Rustin. An interviewer asked Rustin whether King "retained that fundamentalist's sense of an active, personal god." Rustin said, "Oh, yes, profoundly, and I was always amazed at how it was possible to combine this intense, analytical philosophical mind with this more or less fundamental--well I don't like to use the word 'fundamentalist'--but this abiding faith" (qtd.
Given short shrift as a leader of the Civil Rights Movement during his lifetime though he was a key adviser to Martin Luther King Jr., Bayard Rustin has been "rehabilitated" of late by gay African Americans eager to identify their own activist heroes.
Years later Baker insisted, "my ego wasn't at stake at any point." But Bayard Rustin recalled that "Ella Baker was very tough on Martin.
Tracy describes the central role that radical pacifists such as Bayard Rustin, George Houser, and A.J.
* 1987- Bayard Rustin, civil rights leader dies; John Oliver Killens, Black literary figure dies; James Baldwin, African American essayist and novelist dies; Septima Clark, African American educator dies.
Some important movement activists, such as Bayard Rustin (whose most important essay Branch erroneously dates to 1964 rather than 1965), receive insufficient attention.