This Day in Black History: Aug. 24, 1987

Library of Congress

This Day in Black History: Aug. 24, 1987

Bayard Rustin, a prominent activist in the March on Washington, died on Aug. 24, 1987.

Published August 24, 2013

Bayard Rustin, the main organizer behind the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, died on Aug. 24, 1987 in New York City. 

Rustin was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania, on March 17, 1912. He 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.

Rustin began working with Martin Luther King Jr. as an organizer in 1955 and assisted him with the Montgomery bus boycott before organizing the 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.

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(Photo: Library of Congress)

Written by Natelege Whaley


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