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When we think of the first March on Washington back in 1963, the first name that comes to our minds is unsurprisingly Martin Luther King, Jr., but there should be a second name that comes to your minds as well. If it weren't for Bayard Rustin, the March on Washington may have never happened in the first place.
Rustin was the main organizer of the 1963 march and was a close confidant to Dr. King. He was also openly gay and a former member of the Communist Party, which earned him a high dose of vitriol and gave fuel to the fire of those trying to dismiss him. Being an openly gay black man at that time was nearly unheard of, especially with someone as well known as Rustin. If that weren't enough, Rustin was endlessly investigated by Federal authorities who suspected that he was involved in a myriad of anti-American activities. Despite these and many other tremendous odds, Rustin was able to get over 200,000 people to descend on Washington, D.C. in 1963 to protest the Federal Governments laws against our black citizens and to demand change.
President Obama recently announced that he will be awarding a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom to Bayard Rustin, which will be accepted by his former partner, Walter Naegle. What do you think of Bayard Rustin receiving the nations highest civilian honor? And what does it mean for not just the civil rights movement, but for gay rights in this country?