BAYARD RUSTIN American civil rights activist, born (d: 1987) Largely behind the scenes in the civil rights movement of the 1960s and earlier, and one of the organizers of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, it was Bayard Rustin who counseled Martin Luther King Jr. on the techniques of nonviolent resistance.
For much of his career, Rustin lived in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood, in the union-funded Penn South complex, from 1978 with his partner Walter Naegle. He became an advocate on behalf of gay and lesbian causes in the latter part of his career; however, his sexuality was the reason for attacks from within the civil rights movement as well as from many governmental and other interest groups.
A year before his death in 1987, Rustin said: “Twenty-five, thirty years ago, the barometer of human rights in the United States were black people. That is no longer true. The barometer for judging the character of people in regard to human rights is now those who consider themselves Gay, homosexual, or Lesbian.”