Bayard Rustin

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Bayard Rustin (1912-1987) was an American trade unionist and civil rights leader.[1] Eric Thomas Chester has described him as a representative of the Dubinsky-Lovestone strand in the American Social Democratic tradition".[2]

The son of West Immigrants to the United States, Rustin joined the Young Communist league in the 1930s. He later left to join A. Philip Randolph's March on Washington movement during World War Two.[3]

A significant figure in the civil rights movement, Rustin was forced out of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s staff by the threatened revelation of his homosexuality. In 1963, he gained administration support for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.[3]

He subsequently worked at the A. Philip Randolph Institute where his politics shifted steadily to the right, in opposition to King and to Black Power.[3]

In 1966, Rustin took part in the Committee on Free Elections in the Dominican Republic, a CIA-backed effort to defend elections that had been rigged against the socialist candidate, Juan Bosch.[4]

In a 1974 essay, American Negroes and Israel, Rustin attacked the Black Panthers and others for equating Black support for Israel with subservience to Jewish interests.[5]

He refused to support the 1983 King Memorial March on Washington.[3]

He was a key figure for AFL-CIO policy on Africa, notably supporting 'constructive engagement' with South Africa, and the AFL-CIO's favoured alternatives to the African National Congress.[3]



External Resources


  1. Bayard Rustin (1912 - 1987), AFL-CIO, accessed 11 May 2010.
  2. Eric Thomas Chester, Covert Network: Progressives, the International Rescue Committee and the CIA, M.E. Sharpe, 1995, p.200.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Paul Buhle, Taking Care of Business: Samuel Gompers, George Meany, Lane Kirkland, and the Tragedy of American Labor, Monthly Review Press, 1999, p.156.
  4. Hugh Wilford, The Mighty Wurlitzer, How the CIA played America, Harvard, 2008, p.186.
  5. Sasha Polakow-Suransky, The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa, Pantheon, 2010, p.175.