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It was Rustin who booked the buses, scheduled speech times & planned menus for the march. But none of that would prove to be impossible for a black man who was openly gay in 1963. Ten years prior, he had been arrested for engaging with men in a parked car in California, which was illegal. His sexuality was an issue for others around him. In 1960, Adam Clayton Powell was said to have threatened to start a rumor that King was one of Rustin’s lovers if he didn’t expel him from the circle of activists.

Among the planning tasks of the march was controlling law enforcement. It was Rustin who interviewed each officer to ensure a non-violent response in case of resistance. The volunteers had a 12-page manual made by Rustin to ensure a smooth operation.

Bayard Rustin helped organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the SCLC and led Dr. King to his affiliation with Ghandi. Rustin died in 1987. Next spring, a book of his letters will be published.

Little Known Black History Fact: Bayard Rustin  was originally published on blackamericaweb.com

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