10 Things to Know: Bayard Rustin

Here's a rundown on the man responsible for one of the largest peaceful demonstrations in American history.

BY Michelle Garcia

November 20 2013 5:00 AM ET

Bayard Rustin will be among the recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom today in a ceremony at the White House. Though he died in 1987 due to a ruptured appendix, his work as the chief organizer of the groundbreaking 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom will forever live on as a hallmark moment in American civil rights movement. His legacy has remained intact largely thanks to his surviving partner, Walter Naegle. Both Rustin and Sally Ride, LGBT pioneers in their respective fields, will be posthumously honored by President Obama Wednesday with the highest honor an American civilian can receive. Here's some of what you need to know about Bayard Rustin. 

1. Rustin's grandmother was a Quaker, which had a clear influence on his views on nonviolent resistance, peace, and equality. Later he also absorbed the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, African-American labor leader A. Philip Randolph, and labor leader and minister A.J. Muste. During World War II, Rustin worked for Randolph to fight racial discrimination in hiring for war-related jobs. Rustin was a member of several pacifist groups and was jailed twice for not registering for the draft.

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