7pm, May 4th, Authors’ Presentation, “Bayard Rustin: The Invisible Activist”


Bayard Rustin (center) speaking with (left to right) Carolyn Carter, Cecil Carter, Kurt Levister, and Kathy Ross, before demonstration, 1964
(Photo: Library of Congress, Ed Ford, photographer, New York World Telegram & Sun )

7pm, Monday, May 4th, in the parlor at the Friends Center, 5 Longfellow Park, Cambridge

rustinfrontcover-webMediumJacqueline Houtman and Walter Naegle, authors of Bayard Rustin: The Invisible Activist (2014 QuakerPress of Friends General Conference), will present a program on the life of Bayard Rustin (1912–1987)—an African American Quaker, pacifist, teacher, organizer, advisor, gay man, and one of the most important, and least known, activists of the civil rights movement. An advisor to the Martin Luther King, Jr., he promoted nonviolent resistance, participated in one of the first Freedom Rides, organized the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and worked tirelessly for marginalized communities at home and abroad. As an openly gay African American, Bayard Rustin stood at the intersection of many of the struggles for equal rights. Walter Naegle is Bayard’s former partner and Jacqueline Houtman is a children’s author. In 2013, on Bayard Rustin’s behalf, Walter Naegle received the posthumous Medal of Freedom Award from Barack Obama.

This event is sponsored by the Friends Meeting at Cambridge Peace & Social Concerns and Friends for Racial Justice Committees. More information about the book is at QuakerBooks of Philadelphia and at Amazon

Now Available, a new biography for middle school ages and up…

We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers—Bayard Rustin

To many, the civil rights movement brings to mind protests, marches, boycotts, and freedom rides. They often think of people like Martin Luther King, Jr. or Rosa Parks. They seldom think of Bayard Rustin.


Bayard in Trafalgar Square, London, England. (Photo: Walter Naegle)

Raised by his Quaker grandmother to believe in the value of every human being, Bayard made trouble wherever he saw injustice. As a teenager, he was arrested for sitting in the whites only section of a theater. More arrests followed, for protesting against segregation, discrimination, and war. His belief in nonviolent action as a means for social change gave him a guiding vision for the civil rights movement, which he used to mentor the young Martin Luther King, Jr. When A. Philip Randolph needed the best organizer on the planet, he turned to Bayard Rustin to bring 250,000 people to the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Illustrated with over sixty photos, this book is the product of a unique collaboration between three authors: Bayard’s partner of ten years, a professor of religious studies, and a children’s book author. Though he is largely ignored in history books, Bayard’s ideas and actions will inspire today’s young (and not-so-young) readers to be angelic troublemakers.

Medal of Freedom Award

President Obama handed the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Walter Naegle as an aide announced, “Fifty years after the March on Washington he organized, America honors Bayard Rustin as one of its greatest architects for social change and a fearless advocate for its most vulnerable citizens.” (Photo: Pete Souza, The White House)