Slideshow from the WRL Archives: On the Centennial of the Life of Bayard Rustin



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2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of civil rights icon Bayard Rustin, and many groups—from the Quaker-based American Friends Service Committee and inter-faith Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) to the labor federation AFL-CIO to countless educational institutions—are engaged in celebrating this man of humble beginnings. The National Black Justice Coalition, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people, has dedicated Mandy Carter, a long-time community leader, to coordinate Centennial activities in recognition of the ground-breaking work of Rustin as an out gay man.

Rustin, however, was more than simply a campaigner for individual liberties—be they for Black or gay folks. He was a revolutionary critic of the status quo, one whose commitment to radical pacifism and ability to bring together broad and often conflicting peoples made a mark still very relevant today.

This slideshow, put together by the War Resisters League (WRL, for whom Rustin served as Executive Secretary from 1953 till 1965—including the period when he was chief architect of the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom), focuses on this radical bridge-building aspect of Rustin’s life.

This slideshow was researched, drawn from the archives of, written, edited and produced by:

Matt Meyer, War Resisters League National Committee member
Nkese ‘Nikki’ Rankine, Bilezikian Intern (Winter/Spring 2012)
Kimber Heinz, WRL National Organizing Coordinator

With Support from and Special Thanks to:

Linda Thurston, WRL Office Coordinator
Walter Naegle, long-time partner of Bayard Rustin; estate executor
Sky Hall, WRL Archivist
Wendy Chmielewski, Curator, Swarthmore College Peace Collection
Mandy Carter, Rustin Centennial Coordinator; co-founder of the National Black Justice Coalition (

A project of the War Resisters League