It isn’t a secret that Martin Luther King Jr did not invent the idea of nonviolent protests, just like Malcolm X didn’t hold patent to the idea of violent protests. During the early and middle 20th century, the United States was still reeling from the ideals that had been fought over during the American Civil War.
Even though slavery ended with the ratification of the 13th amendment, discrimination of those freemen did not. Even today, discrimination is something that many in the U.S. have to deal with on a daily basis.
Bayard Rustin is a name that most people don’t know, yet he played as much a role in the civil rights movement as either Dr. King or Malcolm X. In fact, Rustin advised King on many different occasions before King was assassinated. The question is, why is he not so well-known?
Bayard Rustin was born March 17 1912, in Pennsylvania. He was highly educated with degrees in education from the City College of New York and Cheyney State Teachers College. Even as he went through his schooling, he took part in many laws that were discriminatory against African-Americans. He was expelled, for instance, from Wilberforce University in 1936 for organizing a strike meant to protest discrimination.
After university, he moved to Harlem, where he took part and organized many different protests and organizations. Interestingly, he also joined the Religious Society of Friends, also known as the Quakers, a group the espoused non-violent teachings.
Throughout the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, Bayard Rustin organized protests, marches, and speeches where he railed against the discrimination shown to African-Americans throughout the country.
Another thing he is known for, is his stance on gay rights. As a gay black man during the early parts of the 20th century, it is hard to say what he faced the most discrimination in his life for. It is likely that it was his homosexuality, as at that time it was actually illegal in many parts of the country to be gay. In 1953 he was arrested for a short time for homosexual activity.