Name: Bayard Rustin
Distinction: Being a bedrock member of The Civil Rights Movement
Brief History: Rustin first met King in 1956, when Rustin helped organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott. He educated MLK in Gandhian nonviolent protest principles and went on to organize the 1963 March on Washington, where King made his immortal speech. Unfortunately, the sexuality of Rustin was seen as a problem in the movement. The government even tried to use Rustin’s sexuality to dim his effectiveness and even throw around the rumor that he was lovers with MLK. Because of this, it wasn’t until recently, that these man’s monumental achievements were even discussed.
Importance: Do you realize the strength of character of this man? To fight and organize for people who may not have greatly cared for him. He fought for the struggles of African-Americans knowing full well that even if there was success that he would not taste fully of it. Without his efforts, the world would not have had the awe inspiring “I Have a Dream” speech of MLK. A gay man did that. So for those straight black people who enjoy taking jabs at their gay brethren, remember that the next time you’re talking about Civil Rights.