#QueerHeroes Day 16.
Rustin was born in 1912. His mother was a Quaker. He moved to Harlem in 1937 and his civil rights work quickly began garnering attention, including his work to free the wrongly accused Scottsboro Boys.
He began orchestrating some of America’s earliest freedom rides down South in the 1940s. That decade, he also went to India to learn methods/philosophies of nonviolent resistance.
In the 50s, he was arrested for “sex perversion” and served two months in jail. His homosexuality became public and immediately halted a path that was going to make him one of the foremost faces of the civil rights movement.
He was fired from the Fellowship of Recreation. But his involvement in the movement was never self-serving, it was always centered around liberation. Even though he couldn’t be the face of the movement, his work behind the scenes for it would still make him a vital organizer and activist—most primarily to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
His sexuality ostracized him from many other civil rights leaders, nevertheless he went on to organize the historic Jobs March on Washington.
Rustin died in 1987.