August 28th, 1963 will forever be tied to Martin Luther King Jr.’s hallowed “I Have a Dream Speech.” This historic moment would probably have never come to fruition if it weren’t for a man standing in King’s shadow, Mr. Bayard Rustin. Bayard Rustin was a man with a number of seemingly incompatible labels: black, gay, Quaker . . . identifications that served to earn him as many detractors as admirers. Although he had numerous passions and pursuits, his most transformative act, one that certainly changed the course of American history, was to counsel MLK on the use of non-violent resistance.
Rustin also helped to engineer the March on Washington and frame the Montgomery bus boycott. With such lofty achievements, why isn’t Rustin considered an icon of both Civil Rights and humanity? Why is Rustin not synonymous with Civil Rights? How could a person who changed the course of American history not be a household name? Was he purposely kept out of the history books? On State of the Re:Union, host Al Letson normally sets out to take listeners to a specific place, but for this special, the program takes the audience to a specific time in history that shapes the way we live now. More than just a Black History Month special, we found his complex story one for all seasons.
Bayard Rustin in Pictures