Bayard Rustin’s Life in Letters: A Small, Interracial, Disciplined Group… to Test Jim Crow

Rustin protesting the arrest of Garry Davis, a former U.S. bomber pilot and founder of a world citizenship movement.

This month marks the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and organized by Bayard Rustin. To commemorate this historical event, Rustin biographer and editor of I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin’s Life in Letters, Michael Long will speak at The Constitution Center in Philadelphia, PA on Wednesday, August 28th, 50 years to the day after MLK delivered his “I have a dream” speech.

The White House also announced this month that Bayard Rustin will be posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor bestowed to a U.S. civilian. Rustin has been called the “lost prophet” of the civil rights movement. A master strategist and tireless activist, he is best remembered as the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, one of the largest nonviolent protests ever held in the U.S. He brought Gandhi’s protest techniques to the American civil rights movement and played a deeply influential role in the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., helping to mold him into an international symbol of nonviolence.

Honoring Rustin for his achievements and work in bringing the March into being, we’ve included one of his eloquent, impassioned letters from I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin’s Life in Letters

In his letter below, Bayard Rustin addresses Arthur Hill, who was president of a company that was notorious for discriminating against African Americans— the Atlantic Greyhound Lines.  As president, Hill would have received countless complaints from the NAACP, civil rights leaders, and everyday blacks facing insult and injury from racist bus drivers in both the South and the North.

Expand to read the Bayard Rustin’s letter in full:

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