Bayard Rustin: Prophet of Freedom, Justice, and Humanity

Stephen G. Hall SAVE THIS

Bayard Rustin praises Chavez & UFW at AFL-CIO rally, 1969 (Bob Fitch photography archive).

The recent 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots marks an important milestone in the visibility of LGBTQ communities. Particularly noteworthy is Marsha Johnson, a Black transgender woman who played a significant role in fighting back against the police repression that led to the riot. Johnson’s actions heightened the visibility of transgender people and proved foundational in contemporary advocacy work on trans issues. 

Black LGBTQ people like Johnson have played significant roles in Black freedom struggles throughout the twentieth century. One of the least known yet most influential figures is Bayard Rustin. A theorist and proponent of nonviolence who worked to overturn the system of Jim Crow, he was also a major organizer in social justice and civil rights organizations events prior to, during, and after the Civil Rights Movement.

Rustin’s work combined a passion…

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