by Brendan James
Laura Williams welcomes more attention for a lesser-known hero of the Civil Rights Movement:
He helped organize and participated in the first freedom ride, 1947’s “Journey of Reconciliation” (for which he and several other participants were jailed and put in a chain gang). In the 1950s, he advised, strategized, and raised money behind the scenes for the Montgomery Bus Boycott, helping to direct King’s rise to national prominence. He’s also credited with honing the King’s nonviolent strategy. Later, Rustin was the mastermind of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (now simply known as the March on Washington), organizing it in just two months.
But Rustin was kept in the shadows by the homophobia of both his enemies (segregationist Strom Thurmond used Rustin’s sexuality to denigrate the movement) and his allies.
In November, Rustin will be posthumously honored with the Medal of Freedom. It comes after…
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