2/5 BHM Profile: Bayard Rustin

Sophia Wright, Reporter

Bayard Rustin (1912-1987)

Bayard Rustin with his significant other. (StoryCorps)

While many people might not know him, Bayard Rustin was hugely influential within the civil rights movement. During the mid-1950s,  Rustin became a close advisor to Martin Luther King Jr., and he was the principal organizer of King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Later, Rustin was  the chief architect of the March on Washington (August 1963), which was a massive demonstration to rally support for civil right’s legislation pending in congress. Rustin continued his advocacy for civil rights in 1964 by directing a one day student boycott of New York’s public schools in protest of their racial imbalances. Rustin also served as president of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, a civil rights organization in New York City, from 1966 to 1979. Rustin also advocated for gay rights, and in 2013 he was awarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.