Bayard Rustin, the Black American civil rights activist who directed the 1963 March on Washington, dies in New York City at the age of seventy-seven.
1987 (Aug 24)
Bayard Rustin, the Black American civil rights activist who directed the 1963 March on Washington, died in New York City at the age of seventy-seven. In addition to being chief organizer of the 1963 march, Rustin was also responsible for "many of the tactics and much of the strategy” used by Martin Luther King, Jr., and other leaders of the civil rights movement. During the 1960s and 1970s he was often criticized by “more radical Blacks” because he advocated better education as the best means for Blacks to gain racial equality and because he was an apostle of non-violent protest. Yet Rustin continued to oppose nationalist and separatist ideas among Black Americans. Rustin's pacifist ideology extended at least back to World War II when he spent more than two years in jail as a conscientious objector. In the 1960s, he became an early vocal opponent of American involvement in the war in Vietnam. At the time of his death, Rustin was co-chairman of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, a social-reform lobbying group and had recently traveled to Cambodia and Haiti investigating "violence and injustice.” In its tribute to Rustin published on August 26, 1987, the Atlanta Constitution said that he “devoted his life to the fight for human rights, freedom and justice, not just in [the United States], but around the world. ... His commitments to human rights and peace were neither trendy nor shallow. . . . America is indebted to Bayard Rustin. It is a better nation because of him.”