Bayard Rustin worked with A. Phillip Randolph, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Senator John Lewis, and many other leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. However, his own role as a major leader in this movement was often kept secret from the public because of his sexual orientation. Bayard never wanted to hide who he was from the people who were most important to him and he also wanted to do as much as he could to promote equality for all human beings. Unfortunately, because he lived openly, his contributions often went unseen and unacknowledged by history. At least until recently.
Troublemaker for Justice by Jacqueline Houtman, Walter Naegle, and Michael G. Long, is an exceptionally well written biography of Bayard Rustin for young adults. It covers his childhood with his grandparents, his teenage years when he really started to encounter and stand up against segregation, and his adult years which were full of activism and courage. Bayard was the driving force behind some critical aspects of the Civil Rights Movement including integrated bus trips, Dr. King’s embrace of a philosophy of nonviolence, and the March on Washington. Still, his involvement and impact were hidden away from the public for many, many years.
Walter Naegle was Bayard’s partner from 1977 until Bayard’s death in 1987. In 2013, Naegle accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama on Bayard’s behalf. Bayard was truly an extraordinary person. He never stopped working towards a more just world even when his contributions were ignored or erased by others. Troublemaker for Justice is a book that belongs in every middle and high school library biography section and students researching the Civil Rights Movement should always be presented with materials that acknowledge his contributions. Bayard Rustin dedicated his life to the pursuit of equality and his is a name that should stand out in United States history.
Justice 13: I am aware that biased words and behaviors and unjust practices, laws and institutions limit the rights and freedoms of people based on their identity groups.
Justice 14: I know that all people (including myself) have certain advantages and disadvantages in society based on who they are and where they were born.
Justice 15: I know about some of the people, groups and events in social justice history and about the beliefs and ideas that influenced them.
RI.2- Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to supporting ideas; provide an objective summary of the text.
RI.3- Analyze how a text makes connections among and distinctions between individuals, ideas, or events (e.g., through comparisons, analogies, or categories).
RI.4- Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.
RI.9- Analyze a case in which two or more texts provide conflicting information on the same topic and identify where the texts disagree on matters of fact or interpretation.