This Day in Black History: Bayard Rustin

UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1754: Bayard Rustin (1912-1987), American civil rights activist. Rustin in the Statler Hotel at a news briefing on the Civil Rights March on Washington, DC, USA, 27 August 1963. Photographer: Warren K Leffler. (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

This Day in Black History: Bayard Rustin

The civil rights activist, who organized the March on Washington, was born on this day in 1912.

Published 3 weeks ago

Bayard Rustin, the main organizer behind the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, was born on this day in 1912 in West Chester, Pennsylvania. 

Rustin attended HBCUs Wilberforce University in Ohio and Cheyney University in Pennsylvania. He then attended City College of New York in 1937. As he emerged as a leader in civil rights, he combined the Quaker religion, which his grandmother practiced, Gandhi's non-violence techniques and socialism teachings of A. Phillip Randolph as his own philosophy.

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Rustin began working with Martin Luther King Jr. as an organizer in 1955 and assisted him with the Montgomery bus boycott before organizing the 1963 March on Washington. He also taught King about Gandhi's non-violence philosophy. 

Until his death, Rustin, who was openly gay, continued to speak out for the human rights of gays and lesbians and economic equality in the civil rights movement. He died of a ruptured appendix at the age of 75 on Aug. 24, 1987 in New York City. 

(Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

Written by BET Staff

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