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Bayard Rustin

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Title: Bayard Rustin  
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Subject: March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Socialist Party of America, African-American Civil Rights Movement (1954–68), Poor People's Campaign, Martin Luther King, Jr.
Collection: 1912 Births, 1987 Deaths, 20Th-Century African-American Activists, 20Th-Century Quakers, Activists from Pennsylvania, African-American Christians, African-Americans' Civil Rights Activists, American Anti–vietnam War Activists, American Christian Pacifists, American Christian Socialists, American Quakers, American Social Democrats, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania Alumni, Community Organizing, Converts to Quakerism, Democratic Socialists, Freedom Riders, Lgbt African Americans, Lgbt Christians, Lgbt People from Pennsylvania, Lgbt Rights Activists from the United States, Martin Luther King, Jr., Members of Social Democrats USA, Members of the Socialist Party of America, Nonviolence Advocates, People from Chester County, Pennsylvania, People from West Chester, Pennsylvania, Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients, War Resisters League Activists
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Bayard Rustin

Bayard Rustin
Rustin at a news briefing on the Civil Rights March on Washington, August 27, 1963
Born (1912-03-17)March 17, 1912
West Chester, Pennsylvania
Died August 24, 1987(1987-08-24) (aged 75)
Manhattan, New York
Organization Fellowship of Reconciliation, Congress of Racial Equality, War Resisters League, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Social Democrats, USA (National Chairman), A. Philip Randolph Institute (President), Committee on the Present Danger
Movement African-American Civil Rights Movement, Peace Movement, Socialism, Gay Rights Movement, Neoconservatism
Religion Quaker
Partner(s) Walter Naegle
Awards Presidential Medal of Freedom

Bayard Rustin (; March 17, 1912 – August 24, 1987) was an American leader in social movements for civil rights, socialism, nonviolence, and gay rights. He was born and raised in Pennsylvania, where his family was involved in civil rights work. In 1936, he moved to Harlem, New York City, where he earned a living as a nightclub and stage singer. He continued activism for civil rights.

In the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to strengthen King's leadership. Rustin promoted the philosophy of nonviolence and the practices of nonviolent resistance, which he had observed while working with Mahatma Gandhi's movement in India.

Rustin became a leading strategist of the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

After the passage of the civil rights legislation of 1964–65, Rustin focused attention on the economic problems of working-class and unemployed African Americans, suggesting that the civil-rights movement had left its period of "protest" and had entered an era of "politics", in which the black community had to ally with the labor movement. Rustin became the head of the AFL–CIO's A. Philip Randolph Institute, which promoted the integration of formerly all-white unions and promoted the unionization of African Americans. The Institute under Rustin's leadership also advanced and campaigned for (from 1966 to 1968) A Freedom Budget for All Americans, linking the concepts of racial justice with economic justice. Supported by over 200 prominent civil-rights activists, trade unionists, religious leaders, academics and others, it outlined a plan to eliminate poverty and unemployment in the United States within a ten-year period. Rustin became an honorary chairperson of the Socialist Party of America in 1972, before it changed its name to Social Democrats, USA (SDUSA); Rustin acted as national chairman of SDUSA during the 1970s. During the 1970s and 1980s, Rustin served on many humanitarian missions, such as aiding refugees from Communist Vietnam and Cambodia. He was on a humanitarian mission in Haiti when he died in 1987.

Rustin was a gay man who had been arrested for homosexual activity in 1953 (it was criminalized in parts of the United States until 2003). Rustin's sexuality, or at least his public criminal charge, was criticized by some fellow pacifists and civil-rights leaders because it detracted from his effectiveness. Rustin was attacked as a "pervert" or "immoral influence" by political opponents from segregationists to black power militants, from the 1950s through the 1970s. In addition, his pre-1941 Communist Party affiliation when he was a young man was controversial, having caused scrutiny by the FBI. To avoid such attacks, Rustin served rarely as a public spokesperson. He usually acted as an influential adviser behind the scenes to civil-rights leaders. In the 1980s, he became a public advocate on behalf of gay and lesbian causes.

President Ronald Reagan issued a statement on Rustin's death in 1987, praising his work for civil rights and his shift toward neoconservative politics over the years.[4][5][6] On November 20, 2013, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom.[7]


  • Early life 1
  • Political philosophy 2
  • Evolving affiliations 3
  • Influence on the Civil Rights Movement 4
    • March on Washington 4.1
    • New York City school boycott 4.2
    • From protest to politics 4.3
      • Influence on William Julius Wilson 4.3.1
    • Labor movement: Unions and social democracy 4.4
    • Foreign policy 4.5
    • Gay rights 4.6
  • Death and beliefs 5
  • Legacy 6
  • Publications 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Early life

Rustin was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania to Florence Rustin and Archie Hopkins. He was raised by his maternal grandparents (whom he believed were his parents), Julia (Davis) and Janifer Rustin.[8][9] Julia Rustin was a Quaker, although she attended her husband's African Methodist Episcopal Church. She was also a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). NAACP leaders such as W.E.B. Du Bois and James Weldon Johnson were frequent guests in the Rustin home. With these influences in his early life, in his youth Rustin campaigned against racially discriminatory Jim Crow laws.[10]

In 1932, Rustin entered Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. He left Wilberforce in 1936 before taking his final exams, and later attended Cheyney State Teachers College (now Cheyney University of Pennsylvania). Cheyney honored Rustin with a posthumous "Doctor of Humane Letters" degree at its 2013 commencement.

After completing an activist training program conducted by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Rustin moved to Harlem in 1937 and began studying at City College of New York. There he became involved in efforts to defend and free the Scottsboro Boys, nine young black men in Alabama who were accused of raping two white women. He joined the Young Communist League for a small period of time in 1936, before becoming disillusioned with the party.[8] Soon after arriving in New York City, he became a member of Fifteenth Street Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Rustin was an accomplished tenor vocalist, an asset which earned him admission to both Wilberforce University and Cheyney State Teachers College with music scholarships.[11] In 1939, he was in the chorus of a short-lived musical that starred Paul Robeson. Blues singer Josh White was also a cast member, and later invited Rustin to join his band, "Josh White and the Carolinians". This gave Rustin the opportunity to become a regular performer at the Café Society nightclub in Greenwich Village, widening his social and intellectual contacts.[12] A few albums on Fellowship Records featuring his singing were produced from the 1950s through the 1970s.

Political philosophy

Rustin's personal philosophy is said to have been inspired by combining Quaker pacifism with socialism (as taught by A. Philip Randolph) and the theory of non-violent protest, popularized by Mahatma Gandhi.[8]

Evolving affiliations

Following directions from the Soviet Union, the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) and its members were active in the civil rights movement for African Americans.[13] Following Stalin's "theory of nationalism", the CPUSA once favored the creation of a separate nation for African-Americans to be located in the American Southeast, the center of the greatest concentration of black population.[14] In 1941, after Germany invaded the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin ordered the CPUSA to abandon civil rights work and focus supporting U.S. entry into World War II.

Disillusioned, Rustin began working with members of the Socialist Party of Norman Thomas, particularly A. Philip Randolph, the head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; another socialist mentor was the pacifist A. J. Muste, leader of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR).

The three of them proposed a march on Executive Order 8802 (the Fair Employment Act), which banned discrimination in defense industries and federal agencies. The armed forces were not desegregated until 1948, under an Executive Order issued by President Harry S. Truman.

Rustin traveled to California to help protect the property of the more than 120,000 Japanese Americans, most native-born, who had been Louisville, bound for Nashville, and sat in the second row. A number of drivers asked him to move to the back, according to Southern practice of Jim Crow, but Rustin refused. The bus was stopped by police 13 miles north of Nashville and Rustin was arrested. He was beaten and taken to the police station, but was released uncharged.[15]

In 1942, Rustin assisted two other FOR staffers, Henry David Thoreau. Modeled after Mohandas Gandhi's non-violent resistance against British rule in India, it was influenced by his protege Krishnalal Shridharani's book War without Violence.[16]

Declared India and Africa.

Just before a trip to Africa while college secretary of the FOR, Rustin recorded a 10-inch LP for the Fellowship Records label. He sang spirituals and Elizabethan songs, accompanied on the harpsichord by Margaret Davison.[17]

Influence on the Civil Rights Movement

Rustin and Houser organized the

  • Bayard Rustin – Who Is This Man?
  • FBI file on Bayard Rustin
  • , from Quakerinfo.orgBayard Rustin, Civil Rights Leader
  • , a documentary on RustinBrother Outsider
  • The NationRandall Kennedy, "From Protest to Patronage."
  • Biography on Bayard Rustin High School's website
  • Bayard Rustin at the Internet Broadway Database

External links

  • Anderson, Jervis. Bayard Rustin: Troubles I've Seen (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997).
  • Bennett, Scott H. Radical Pacifism: The War Resisters League and Gandhian Nonviolence in America, 1915–1963 (Syracuse Univ. Press, 2003). ISBN 0-8156-3028-X.
  • Branch, Taylor. Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954–63 (New York: Touchstone, 1989).
  • Carbado, Devon W. and Donald Weise, editors. Time on Two Crosses: The Collected Writings of Bayard Rustin (San Francisco: Cleis Press, 2003). ISBN 1-57344-174-0
  • D’Emilio, John. Lost Prophet: Bayard Rustin and the Quest for Peace and Justice in America (New York: The Free Press, 2003).
  • D'Emilio, John. Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2004). ISBN 0-226-14269-8
  • Haskins, James. Bayard Rustin: Behind the Scenes of the Civil Rights Movement (New York: Hyperion, 1997).
  • Hirschfelder, Nicole. Oppression as Process: The Case of Bayard Rustin (Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2014). ISBN 3825363902
  • Kates, Nancy and Bennett Singer (dirs.) Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin (2003)
  • King, Martin Luther Jr.; Carson, Clayborne; Luker, Ralph & Penny A. Russell The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr.: Volume IV: Symbol of the Movement, January 1957 – December 1958. University of California Press, 2000. ISBN 0-520-22231-8
  • Le Blanc, Paul and Michael Yates, A Freedom Budget for All Americans: Recapturing the Promise of the Civil Rights Movement in the Struggle for Economic Justice Today (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2013).
  • Podair, Jerald E. "Bayard Rustin: American Dreamer" (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Pub., 2009). ISBN 978-0-7425-4513-7
  • Lewis, David L. King: A Biography. (University of Illinois Press, 1978). ISBN 0-252-00680-1.
  • Rustin, Bayard. Down the Line: The Collected Writings of Bayard Rustin (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1971).
  1. ^
  2. ^ Available via with Advanced Search issn:0012-9011 date Nov 1963
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Associated Press, "Reagan Praises Deceased Civil Rights Leader"
  5. ^ Justin Vaïsse, Neoconservatism: The Biography of a Movement (Harvard University Press, 2010), p.71-75
  6. ^ "Table: The Three Ages of Neoconservatism", Neoconservatism: Biography of Movement by Justin Vaisse, official website]
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ a b c Bayard Rustin Biography, (2015), Retrieved 07:37, Feb 28, 2015
  9. ^
  10. ^ Spartacus Educational: Bayard Rustin Biography Biographical sketch at 12/5/2010.
  11. ^ D'Emilio 2003, pp. 21, 24.
  12. ^ D'Emilio 2003, pp. 31–2.
  13. ^
  14. ^ August Meier and Elliot Rudwick. Black Detroit and the Rise of the UAW.
  15. ^ reprinted in
  16. ^
  17. ^ from liner notes, Fellowship Records 102
  18. ^ Podair 2009, pp 27
  19. ^ reprinted in
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Bayard Rustin – Who Is This Man", State of the Reunion, radio show, aired February 2011 on NPR, 1:40–2:10. Retrieved March 16, 2011.
  22. ^
  23. ^ Lewis 1978, p. 131.
  24. ^ a b c d
  25. ^ Life Magazine, 6 September 1963.
  26. ^ a b c d e Daniel Perlstein, "The dead end of despair: Bayard Rustin, the 1968 New York school crisis, and the struggle for racial justice", New York City government
  27. ^ (Simon and Shuster, 1999), p. 292-293Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-1965Taylor Branch,
  28. ^ (The New Press, 2013)A Saving Remnant: The Radical Lives of Barbara Deming and David McReynoldsMartin Duberman,
  29. ^ Staughton Lynd, another civil rights activist, responded with an article entitled, "Coalition Politics or Nonviolent Revolution?"
  30. ^ a b Randall Kennedy, "From Protest to Patronage", The Nation, 11 Sept 2003
  31. ^ Walter Goodman, "Podhoretz on 25 Years at Commentary", The New York Times, 31 January 1985
  32. ^ Wilson's The Declining Significance of Race (1978) won the American Sociological Association's Sydney Spivack Award. In The Declining Significance of Race: Blacks and Changing American Institutions (1978), Wilson argues that the significance of race is waning in society, and an African American's economic class is comparatively more important in determining his or her life chances.
  33. ^ Carrie Golus, "Wilson, William Julius," Contemporary Black Biography, 1999
  34. ^ More Than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner CityWilliam Julius Wilson,
  35. ^ a b (limited free access)
  36. ^ Rustin 2012, pp. 291-2
  37. ^ , January 20, 2008The New York TimesNathan Glazer "A Word From Our Sponsor: Review of Hugh Wilford's The Mighty Wurlitzer"
  38. ^
  39. ^ Matthew Arlyck "Review of I Must Resist: Letters of Bayard Rustin" Fellowship of Reconciliation website
  40. ^ Podair, Jerald E. "Bayard Rustin: American Dreamer" (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Pub., 2009). ISBN 074254513X
  41. ^ Podair 2009, pp. 99
  42. ^
  43. ^ John Ehrman, The Rise of Neoconservatism: Intellectuals and Foreign Affairs, 1945-1994 (Yale University Press, 1996), p. 107-114
  44. ^
  45. ^ Yasmin Nair, "Bayard Rustin: A complex legacy" Windy City Times, March 3, 2012
  46. ^ John D'Emilio, Lost Prophet, p. 488
  47. ^ "Bayard Rustin Is Dead at 75; Pacifist and a Rights Activist", New York Times
  48. ^
  49. ^
  50. ^
  51. ^ Justin Vaïsse, Neoconservatism: The Biography of a Movement (Harvard University Press, 2010), p. 91
  52. ^ Dylan Matthews, "Meet Bayard Rustin",, 28 Aug 2013
  53. ^ "Coalition for a Democratic Majority", Right Web, Institute for Policy Studies
  54. ^
  55. ^ "H.S. 440 Bayard Rustin Educational Complex" at
  56. ^
  57. ^ [1]
  58. ^
  59. ^
  60. ^ [2]
  61. ^
  62. ^


See also

  • Interracial primer, New York: Fellowship of Reconciliation, 1943
  • Interracial workshop: progress report, New York: Sponsored by Congress of Racial Equality and Fellowship of Reconciliation, 1947
  • Journey of reconciliation: report, New York : Fellowship of Reconciliation, Congress of Racial Equality, 1947
  • We challenged Jim Crow! a report on the journey of reconciliation, April 9–23, 1947, New York : Fellowship of Reconciliation, Congress of Racial Equality, 1947
  • "In apprehension how like a god!", Philadelphia: Young Friends Movement 1948
  • The revolution in the South", Cambridge, Massachusetts. : Peace Education Section, American Friends Service Committee, 1950s
  • Report on Montgomery, Alabama New York: War Resisters League, 1956
  • A report and action suggestions on non-violence in the South New York: War Resisters League, 1957
  • Civil rights: the true frontier, New York: Donald Press, 1963
  • From protest to politics: the future of the civil rights movement, New York: League for Industrial Democracy, 1965
  • The city in crisis, (introduction) New York: A. Philip Randolph Educational Fund, 1965
  • "Black power" and coalition politics, New York, American Jewish Committee 1966
  • Which way? (with Daniel Patrick Moynihan), New York : American Press, 1966
  • The Watts "Manifesto" & the McCone report., New York, League for Industrial Democracy 1966
  • Fear, frustration, backlash: the new crisis in civil rights, New York, Jewish Labor Committee 1966
  • The lessons of the long hot summer, New York, American Jewish Committee 1967
  • The Negro community: frustration politics, sociology and economics Detroit : UAW Citizenship-Legislative Department, 1967
  • A way out of the exploding ghetto, New York: League for Industrial Democracy, 1967
  • The alienated: the young rebels today and why they're different, Washington, D.C. : International Labor Press Association, 1967
  • "Right to work" laws; a trap for America's minorities., New York: A. Phillip Randolph Institute 1967
  • Civil rights: the movement re-examined (contributor), New York: A. Philip Randolph Educational Fund, 1967
  • Separatism or integration, which way for America?: a dialogue (with Robert Browne), New York,A. Philip Randolph Educational Fund, 1968
  • The Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, an analysis, New York, American Jewish Committee 1968
  • The labor-Negro coalition, a new beginning, Washington? D.C. : American Federationist?, 1968
  • The anatomy of frustration, New York: Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, 1968
  • Morals concerning minorities, mental health and identity, New York: A. Philip Randolph Institute, 1969
  • Black studies: myths & realities, (contributor) New York: A. Philip Randolph Educational Fund, 1969
  • Conflict or coalition?: the civil rights struggle and the trade union movement today, New York: A. Philip Randolph Institute, 1969
  • Three essays, New York: A. Philip Randolph Institute, 1969
  • Black rage, White fear: the full employment answer : an address, Washington, D.C.: Bricklayers, Masons & Plasterers International Union 1970
  • A word to black students, New York: A. Philip Randolph Institute, 1970
  • The failure of black separatism, New York: A. Philip Randolph Institute, 1970
  • The blacks and the unions (contributor), New York: A. Philip Randolph Educational Fund, 1971
  • Down the line; the collected writings of Bayard Rustin, Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1971
  • Affirmative action in an economy of scarcity (with Norman Hill), New York: A. Philip Randolph Institute, 1974
  • Seniority and racial progress (with Norman Hill), New York: A. Philip Randolph Institute, 1975
  • Have we reached the end of the second reconstruction?, Bloomington, Indiana: The Poynter Center, 1976
  • Strategies for freedom: the changing patterns of Black protest, New York: Columbia University Press 1976
  • Africa, Soviet imperialism and the retreat of American power, New York: Social Democrats, USA (reprint), 1978
  • South Africa: is peaceful change possible? a report (contributor), New York: New York Friends Group, 1984
  • Time on two crosses: the collected writings of Bayard Rustin, San Francisco: Cleis Press, 2003
  • I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters: City Lights, 2012


At the White House ceremony on November 20, 2013, President Obama presented Rustin's award to Walter Naegle, his partner of ten years at the time of Rustin's death.[7]

Bayard Rustin was an unyielding activist for civil rights, dignity, and equality for all. An advisor to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he promoted nonviolent resistance, participated in one of the first Freedom Rides, organized the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and fought tirelessly for marginalized communities at home and abroad. As an openly gay African American, Mr. Rustin stood at the intersection of several of the fights for equal rights.[62]

On August 8, 2013, President Barack Obama announced that he would posthumously award Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award in the United States. The citation in the press release stated:

In 2013 Rustin was selected as an honoree in the United States Department of Labor Hall of Honor.[61]

Rustin was posthumously awarded honorary membership into Delta Phi Upsilon, a fraternity for gay, bisexual and progressive men.

In 2012 Rustin was inducted into the Legacy Walk, an outdoor public display which celebrates LGBT history and people.[60]

A Pennsylvania State Historical Marker is placed at Lincoln and Montgomery Avenues, West Chester, Pennsylvania; the marker commemorating his accomplishments lies on the grounds of Henderson High School, which he attended.[59]

A biographical feature movie of Bayard Rustin was entitled Out of the Past.[58]

In July 2007, with the permission of the Estate of Bayard Rustin, a group of San Francisco Bay Area African-American LGBT community leaders officially formed the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition (BRC), to promote greater participation in the electoral process, advance civil and human rights issues, and promote the legacy of Mr. Rustin. In addition, the Bayard Rustin Center for LGBTQA Activism, Awareness and Reconciliation is located at Guilford College, a Quaker school.[56] Formerly the Queer and Allied Resource Center, the center was rededicated in March 2011 with the permission of the Estate of Bayard Rustin and featured a keynote address by social justice activist Mandy Carter.[57]

Several buildings have been named in honor of Rustin, including the Bayard Rustin Educational Complex located in Chelsea, Manhattan;[55] Bayard Rustin High School in his hometown of West Chester, Pennsylvania; Bayard Rustin Library at the Affirmations Gay/Lesbian Community Center in Ferndale, Michigan; and the Bayard Rustin Social Justice Center in Conway, Arkansas.

According to Daniel Richman, former clerk for United States Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall, Marshall's friendship with Rustin, who was open about his homosexuality, played a significant role in Marshall's dissent from the court's 5–4 decision upholding the constitutionality of state sodomy laws in the later overturned 1986 case Bowers v. Hardwick.[54]

Rustin has been cited as an influential contributor to the Committee on the Present Danger.[51][52][53]

Rustin "faded from the shortlist of well-known civil rights lions," in part because he was active behind the scenes, and also because of public discomfort with his sexual orientation and former communist membership.[24] In addition, Rustin's tilt toward neo-conservatism in the late 1960s led him into disagreement with most civil rights leaders and caused a lessening of his reputation. But, the 2003 documentary film Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin, a Sundance Festival Grand Jury Prize nominee,[50] and the March 2012 centennial of Rustin's birth have contributed to renewed recognition of his extensive contributions.


President Ronald Reagan issued a statement on Rustin's death, praising his work for civil rights and "for human rights throughout the world." He added that Rustin "was denounced by former friends, because he never gave up his conviction that minorities in America could and would succeed based on their individual merit."[4]

Rustin died on August 24, 1987, of a perforated appendix. An obituary in The New York Times reported, "Looking back at his career, Mr. Rustin, a Quaker, once wrote: 'The principal factors which influenced my life are 1) nonviolent tactics; 2) constitutional means; 3) democratic procedures; 4) respect for human personality; 5) a belief that all people are one.' "[47] Rustin was survived by Walter Naegle, his partner of ten years.[48][49]

Rustin speaks with civil rights activists before a demonstration, 1964

Death and beliefs

Rustin did not engage in any gay rights activism until the 1980s. He was urged to do so by his partner Walter Naegle, who has said that "I think that if I hadn't been in the office at that time, when these invitations [from gay organizations] came in, he probably wouldn't have done them."[46]

I was not involved in the struggle for gay rights as a youth. ...I did not "come out of the closet" voluntarily—circumstances forced me out. While I have no problem with being publicly identified as homosexual, it would be dishonest of me to present myself as one who was in the forefront of the struggle for gay rights. ...I fundamentally consider sexual orientation to be a private matter. As such, it has not been a factor which has greatly influenced my role as an activist.[45]

While there is a recurring tendency to describe Rustin as a pioneering "out gay man" the truth is more complex. In 1986, Rustin was invited to contribute to the book In the Life: A Black Gay Anthology. He declined, explaining

Today, blacks are no longer the litmus paper or the barometer of social change. Blacks are in every segment of society and there are laws that help to protect them from racial discrimination. The new "niggers" are gays.... It is in this sense that gay people are the new barometer for social change.... The question of social change should be framed with the most vulnerable group in mind: gay people.[44]

He also testified on behalf of New York State's Gay Rights Bill. In 1986, he gave a speech "The New Niggers Are Gays," in which he asserted,

Gay rights

In 1976, Rustin helped found the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD) with Paul Nitze, leader of the CIAs Team B project. CPD promoted Team B's controversial intelligence claims about Soviet foreign policy, using them as an argument against arms control agreements such as SALT II. This cemented Rustin's leading role in the neoconservative movement.[43]

Rustin maintained his strongly anti-Soviet and anti-communist views later in his life, especially with regard to Africa. Rustin co-wrote with Carl Gershman (a former director of Social Democrats, USA and future Ronald Reagan appointee) an essay entitled "Africa, Soviet Imperialism & the Retreat of American Power," in which he decried Russian and Cuban involvement in the Angolan Civil War and defended the military intervention by apartheid South Africa on behalf of the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) and National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). "And if a South African force did intervene at the urging of black leaders and on the side of the forces that clearly represent the black majority in Angola, to counter a non-African army of Cubans ten times its size, by what standard of political judgment is this immoral?" Rustin accused the Soviet Union of a classic imperialist agenda in Africa in pursuit of economic resources and vital sea lanes, and called the Carter Administration "hypocritical" for claiming to be committed to the welfare of blacks while doing too little to thwart Russian and Cuban expansion throughout Africa.[42]

The plight of Jews in the Soviet Union reminded Rustin of the struggles that blacks faced in the United States. Soviet Jews faced many of the same forms of discrimination in employment, education and housing, while also being prisoners within their own country by being denied the chance to emigrate by Soviet authorities.[40] After seeing the injustice that Soviet Jews faced, Rustin became a leading voice in advocating for the movement of Jews from the Soviet Union to Israel. He worked closely with Senator Henry Jackson of Washington, who introduced legislation that tied trade relations with the Soviet Union to their treatment of Jews.[41]

In 1970 Rustin called for the U.S. to send military jets in the fight against Arab states by Israel; referring to a New York Times article he authored, Rustin wrote to Prime Minister Golda Meir "...I hope that the ad will also have an effect on a serious domestic question: namely, the relations between the Jewish and the Negro communities in America." Rustin was concerned about unity between two groups that he argued faced discrimination in America and abroad, and also believed that Israel’s democratic ideals were proof that justice and equality would prevail in the Arab territories despite the atrocities of war. His former colleagues in the peace movement considered it to be a profound betrayal of Rustin's nonviolent ideals.[39]

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Rustin worked as a human rights and election monitor for Freedom House.[38]

Along with Allard Lowenstein and Norman Thomas, Rustin worked with the C.I.A.-sponsored Committee on Free Elections in the Dominican Republic, which lent “international credibility to a 1966 ballot effectively rigged against the socialist former president, Juan Bosch.”[37]

Like many liberals and socialists, Rustin supported President Lyndon B. Johnson's containment policy against communism, while criticizing specific conduct of this policy. In particular, to maintain independent labor unions and political opposition in Vietnam, Rustin and others gave critical support to U.S. military intervention in Vietnam, while calling for a negotiated peace treaty and democratic elections. Rustin criticized the specific conduct of the war, though. For instance, in a fundraising letter sent to War Resisters League supporters in 1964, Rustin wrote of being "angered and humiliated by the kind of war being waged, a war of torture, a war in which civilians are being machine gunned from the air, and in which American napalm bombs are being dropped on the villages."[36]

Foreign policy

On the political side of the labor movement, Rustin increased his visibility as a leader of the American [35] In later years, Rustin served as the national chairman of SDUSA.

Rustin increasingly worked to strengthen the labor movement, which he saw as the champion of empowerment for the African-American community and for economic justice for all Americans. He contributed to the labor movement's two sides, economic and political, through support of labor unions and social-democratic politics. He was the founder and became the Director of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, which coordinated the AFL-CIO's work on civil rights and economic justice. He became a regular columnist for the AFL-CIO newspaper.

Labor movement: Unions and social democracy

In Wilson's most recent book, More Than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City (2009), he analyzes the pervasive, concentrated urban poverty of African Americans. He asks the question, "Why do poverty and unequal opportunity persist in the lives of so many African Americans?" He traces the history and current state of powerful structural factors affecting African Americans, such as historic (and continuing) discrimination in laws, policies, hiring, housing, and education. Wilson also examines the interplay of structural factors and the attitudes and assumptions of African Americans, European Americans, and social science researchers. In identifying the dynamic influence of structural, economic, and cultural factors, he argues against either/or politicized views of poverty among African Americans that either focus blame solely on cultural factors, or only on unjust structural factors. He tries "to demonstrate the importance of understanding not only the independent contributions of social structure and culture, but also how they interact to shape different group outcomes that embody racial inequality." Wilson's goal is to "rethink the way we talk about addressing the problems of race and urban poverty in the public policy arena."[34]

Wilson has continued to study these problems. His When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor (1996) was selected as one of the 'Notable Books of the Year' by the editors of the New York Times Book Review; it received the Sidney Hillman Foundation Award. His The Bridge Over the Racial Divide: Rising Inequality and Coalition Politics (1999) reaffirms the need for a coalition strategy, as Rustin had suggested decades before.

Wilson explored the problems of minority poor in The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy (1987), which was selected by the editors of the New York Times Book Review as one of the 16 best books of the year; it received The Washington Monthly Annual Book Award and the Society for the Study of Social Problems' C. Wright Mills Award. In The Truly Disadvantaged (1987), Wilson was one of the first to explore at length the "spatial mismatch" theory as contributing to the development of a ghetto underclass. Jobs followed populations that moved to the suburbs, and the urban poor were least likely to have cars or be able to arrange transportation to follow such work. As industrial jobs disappeared in cities in the wake of global economic restructuring, and urban unemployment increased, he found that women did not marry the fathers of their children, since the fathers would not be employed.

Wilson believed that these economic and social problems were not being addressed by a civil rights leadership focused on "Social Democrats, USA.[32][33]

In his 1978 book, Wilson documented an increase in inequality within the Black community following passage of civil rights laws, as educated and wealthier Blacks were able to move into newer housing in white suburbs and take advantage of new employment opportunities. With the decrease in demand for low-skill labor as industry declined in the Northern USA, lower income blacks in numerous former industrial cities of the Rust Belt were left in traditionally segregated black neighborhoods. With depopulation, these communities lost many businesses and their former rich mixture of society. They became isolated from jobs located in distant suburbs, in communities that accumulated a concentration of problems associated with poverty.

Rustin's economic analysis was supported by later research by William Julius Wilson, a prominent sociologist who studied the changes in Chicago and numerous other major cities following the loss of industrial jobs, which had provided middle-class benefits to the working class. Through the decades of the Great Migration from 1915 to 1970, African Americans had become a more urbanized population than any other ethnic group.

Influence on William Julius Wilson

Because of these positions, Rustin was criticized as a "sell-out" by many of his former colleagues in the civil rights movement, especially those connected to John D'Emilio rejects these characterizations, Randall Kennedy wrote in a 2003 article that descriptions of Rustin as "a bought man" are "at least partly true."[30]

Commentary editor-in-chief Norman Podhoretz had commissioned the article from Rustin, and the two men remained intellectually and personally aligned for the next 20 years. Podhoretz and the magazine promoted the neoconservative movement, which had implications for civil rights initiatives as well as other economic aspects of the society. In 1985 Rustin publicly praised Podhoretz for his refusal to "pander to minority groups" and for opposing affirmative action quotas in hiring as well as black studies programs in colleges.[31]

He also argued that the African-American community was threatened by the appeal of identity politics, particularly the rise of "Black power." He thought this position was a fantasy of middle-class black people that repeated the political and moral errors of previous black nationalists, while alienating the white allies needed by the African-American community. Historian Randall Kennedy noted later that, while Rustin had a general "disdain of nationalism," he had a "very different attitude toward Jewish nationalism" and was "unflaggingly supportive of Zionism."[30]

Rustin believed that the African-American community needed to change its political strategy, building and strengthening a political alliance with predominately white unions and other organizations (churches, synagogues, etc.) to pursue a common economic agenda. He wrote that it was time to move from protest to politics. Rustin's analysis of the economic problems of the Black community was widely influential.[29]

After passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Rustin advocated closer ties between the civil rights movement and the Democratic Party, specifically the party's base among the white working class, many of whom still had strong union affiliations. With Tom Kahn, Rustin wrote an influential article in 1964 called "From Protest to Politics," published in Commentary magazine; it analyzed the changing economy and its implications for African Americans. Rustin wrote presciently that the rise of automation would reduce the demand for low-skill high-paying jobs, which would jeopardize the position of the urban African-American working class, particularly in northern states. He believed that the working class had to collaborate across racial lines for common economic goals. His prophecy has been proven right in the dislocation and loss of jobs for many urban African Americans due to restructuring of industry in the coming decades.

Rustin, 1965

At the 1964 Democratic National Convention, which followed Freedom Summer in Mississippi, Rustin became an adviser to the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP); they were trying to gain recognition as the legitimate, non-Jim Crow delegation from their state, where blacks had been officially disenfranchised since the turn of the century (as they were generally throughout the South) and excluded from the official political system. DNC leaders Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey offered only two non-voting seats to the MFDP, with the official seating going to the regular segregationist Mississippi delegation. Rustin, following a line set by Shachtman[28] and AFL-CIO leaders, urged the MFDP to take the offer. MFDP leaders, including Fannie Lou Hamer and Bob Moses, angrily rejected the arrangement; many of their supporters became highly suspicious of Rustin. Rustin's attempt to compromise appealed to the Democratic Party leadership.[26]

In the spring of 1964, Rev. Martin Luther King was considering hiring Rustin as executive director of SCLC, but was advised against it by Stanley Levison, a longtime activist friend of Rustin's. He opposed the hire because of what he considered Rustin's growing devotion to the political theorist Max Schachtman. "Schachtmanites" have been described as an ideologically cultish group with ardently anti-communist positions, and attachments to the Democratic Party and the AFL-CIO.[27]

From protest to politics

When Rustin was invited to speak at the University of Virginia in 1964, school administrators tried to ban him, out of fear that he would organize a school boycott there. The flagship state university and local schools were still segregated.

Rustin organized a May 18 march which called for "maximum possible" integration. Perlstein recounts. "This goal was to be achieved through such modest programs as the construction of larger schools and the replacement of junior high schools with middle schools. The UFT and other white moderates endorsed the May rally, yet only four thousand protesters showed up, and the Board of Education was no more responsive to the conciliatory May demonstration than to the earlier, more confrontational boycott."[26]

The protest demanded complete integration of the city's schools (which would require some whites to attend schools in black neighborhoods), and it challenged the coalition between African Americans and white liberals. An ensuing white backlash affected relations among the black leaders. Writing to black labor leaders, Rustin denounced Galamison for seeking to conduct another boycott in the spring, and soon abandoned the coalition.[26]

At the beginning of 1964, Reverend Milton Galamison and other Harlem community leaders invited Rustin to coordinate a city-wide boycott of public schools to protest their United Federation of Teachers Executive Board to join the boycott or ask teachers to join the picket lines. The union declined, promising only to protect from reprisals any teachers who participated. More than 400,000 New Yorkers participated in a one-day February 3, 1964 boycott. Historian Daniel Perlstein notes that "newspapers were astounded both by the numbers of black and Puerto Rican parents and children who boycotted and by the complete absence of violence or disorder from the protesters."[26] It was, Rustin stated, and newspapers reported, "the largest civil rights demonstration" in American history. Rustin said that "the movement to integrate the schools will create far-reaching benefits" for teachers as well as students.[26]

New York City school boycott

Rustin was instrumental in organizing the march. He drilled off-duty police officers as marshals, bus captains to direct traffic, and scheduled the podium speakers. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Rachelle Horowitz were aides.[24] Despite King's support, NAACP chairman Roy Wilkins did not want Rustin to receive any public credit for his role in planning the march. Nevertheless, he did become well known. On September 6, 1963, a photograph of Rustin and Randolph appeared on the cover of Life magazine, identifying them as "the leaders" of the March.[25]

A few weeks before the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August 1963, Senator Strom Thurmond railed against Rustin as a "Communist, draft-dodger, and homosexual," and had his entire Pasadena arrest file entered in the record.[24] Thurmond also produced a Federal Bureau of Investigation photograph of Rustin talking to King while King was bathing, to imply that there was a same-sex relationship between the two. Both men denied the allegation of an affair.

[w]hen the moment came for an unprecedented mass gathering in Washington, Randolph pushed Rustin forward as the logical choice to organize it.[24]
Despite shunning from some civil rights leaders,
Rustin and Cleveland Robinson of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 7, 1963

March on Washington

The following year, Rustin and King began organizing the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Many African-American leaders were concerned that Rustin's sexual orientation and past Communist membership would undermine support for the civil rights movement. U.S. Representative Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., who was a member of the SCLC's board, forced Rustin's resignation from the SCLC in 1960 by threatening to discuss Rustin's morals charge in Congress.[23] Although Rustin was open about his sexual orientation and his conviction was a matter of public record, the events had not been discussed widely beyond the civil rights leadership.

Rustin took leave from the boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, which became known as the Montgomery Bus Boycott. According to Rustin, "I think it's fair to say that Dr. King's view of non-violent tactics was almost non-existent when the boycott began. In other words, Dr. King was permitting himself and his children and his home to be protected by guns." Rustin convinced King to abandon the armed protection, including a personal handgun.[21] In a 1964 interview with Robert Penn Warren for the book Who Speaks for the Negro?, Rustin also reflected that his integrative ideology began to differ from King's. He believed a social movement "has to be based on the collective needs of people at this time, regardless of color, creed, race."[22]

Rustin served as an unidentified member of the American Friends Service Committee's task force to write "Speak Truth to Power: A Quaker Search for an Alternative to Violence,"[20] published in 1955. This was one of the most influential and widely commented upon pacifist essays in the United States. Rustin had wanted to keep his participation quiet, as he believed that his known sexual orientation would be used by critics as an excuse to compromise the 71-page pamphlet when it was published. It analyzed the Cold War and the American response to it, and recommended non-violent solutions.

Rustin was arrested in Pasadena, California, in 1953 for sexual activity with two other men in a parked car. Originally charged with vagrancy and lewd conduct, he pleaded guilty to a single, lesser charge of "sex perversion" (as sodomy was officially referred to in California then, even if consensual) and served 60 days in jail. This was the first time that his homosexuality had come to public attention. He had been and remained candid in private about his sexuality, although homosexual activity was still criminalized throughout the United States. After his conviction, he was fired from FOR. He became the executive secretary of the War Resisters League.

In 1948, Rustin traveled to India to learn techniques of Ghana and Nigeria. In 1951, he formed the Committee to Support South African Resistance, which later became the American Committee on Africa.

[19] laws regarding segregated seating on public transportation.Jim Crow for violating state North Carolina in chain gang, Rustin served twenty-two days on a Igal Roodenko tactics as too meek. Participants in the Journey of Reconciliation were arrested several times. Arrested with Jewish activist Gandhian The NAACP opposed CORE's [18]

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