Remembering Bayard Rustin 50 Years After the Stonewall Uprising | NYU Local

Almost 50 years have passed since the Stonewall Uprising sparked the modern gay civil rights movement. In honor of the upcoming anniversary, we are highlighting one LGBTQ+ activist every week. The third is Bayard Rustin (1912–1987). Although not present at Stonewall, the past decade has seen Rustin acknowledged for his life and work as an openly gay black man.

“You have to join every other movement for the freedom of people,” instructed Bayard Rustin, a civil rights activist who lived openly as a gay black man.

An influential speaker and organizer, Rustin was born in Pennsylvania, raised by his grandparents, and surrounded by NAACP leaders such as W.E.B. Du Bois in his youth. In 1936, Wilberforce University expelled him after he organized a strike protesting the cafeteria food. Soon after he was jailed as a conscientious objector to World War II.