IPR is featuring some of the many LGBTQ+ pioneers and modern-day heroes to celebrate Pride month.
Bayard Rustin was a prominent civil rights activist. He is best known for organizing the “March on Washington” for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, where more than 200,000 people gathered and where Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. gave his now-famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
Rustin advocated for civil rights beginning in the 1940s, but a turning point came in his life when he was arrested in 1953 after being seen in a parked car with two men. This was the first time his sexual orientation was publicly aired.
Activists criticized Rustin’s sexual orientation and thought it would undermine the civil rights movement. He was dismissed from multiple associations that he helped found, including the Fellowship of Reconciliation (that later created a fellowship in Rustin’s name to honor his legacy). Senator Strom Thurmond also denounced Rustin in an effort to sabotage his organizing role in the “March on Washington.” Despite these efforts, the March proceeded under Rustin’s leadership.
Rustin became an outspoken advocate for gay rights in the 1970s and remained an outspoken activist for the rest of his life.
Black PR Pioneers
The Museum of Public Relations
Bayard Rustin: A Gay Man in the Civil Rights Movement
Black History Month UK