Jason Howard Green

Jason Howard Green

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Black History Month Celebration: Bayard Rustin

If we're talking about LGBT African-Americans that have are deeply rooted in the history of black folks and have significantly contributed to civil rights, then we start our discussion with Bayard Rustin. I think it is appropriate to pay homage to an individual whose contributions to the Civil Rights Movement paralleled those of Martin Luther King. Bayard Rustin is a name that unfortunately is not known in all households. However, if it were not for Rustin, the historic March on Washington that culminated with the King I Have a Dream speech would never have happened.

Bayard is the individual that taught King the principles of nonviolent protests and how to use civil disobedience as an effective demonstration tactic. Rustin was openly homosexual. His decision to live his life honestly did raise a few eyebrows with some leaders in the movement and some encouraged Martin to distance himself and the movement from Bayard. And thought Martin did temporarily buy into the
scare tactic, he did eventually realize that the movment would not be succesful without Bayard and his tremondous talent for organizing and mobilizing people into action.

It's important to realize the strength and character needed to remain true to yourself and still be effective in your influence in the face of people that despise you. Bayard was so good at rallying people together that other leaders in the movement saw his contributions to the cause not his homosexuality.
There is a wealth of resources if you would like to learn more about this remarkable individual. Please watch Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin. There are also several books that will help. They include Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard RustinTime on Two Crosses: The Collected Writings of Bayard Rustin, and Bayard Rustin: Troubles I've Seen.

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