Black History Month Series: Remembering Bayard Rustin

As part of Tell Me More's Black History Month series, Rachel Otwell profiles the life of American civil rights leader Bayard Rustin. Rustin counseled Martin Luther King on nonviolence resistance techniques and is credited with being the chief organizer of the1963 March on Washington. He later also became an advocate for gay rights.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

Finally today, as we wrap up this special edition of the program, we turn to one of our own from the TELL ME MORE family. For this Black History Month, we have been asking guests and NPR colleagues to say which figures or events from black history they find most inspiring.

Today we had a minute or so from our newest dedicated staffer.

RACHEL OTWELL: I'm Rachel Otwell, an intern here at TELL ME MORE. And to me, one of the unsung heroes of black history is Bayard Rustin. I had never heard the name of this human civil rights crusader before college when my best friend made me aware of him.

Bayard Rustin was an adviser in the ways of nonviolent protest to the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Rustin's ability to organize was not to be met. It was largely due to his efforts that the historic march on Washington for jobs and freedom was realized in 1963.

Mr. BAYARD RUSTIN (Civil Rights Activist): As we follow this form of mass action and strategic nonviolence, we will not only put pressure on the government, but we will put pressure on other groups which ought by their nature to be alive with us.

OTELL: Rustin was also openly gay and was a force for human rights by later advocating for gay and lesbian causes.

For me, Bayard Rustin encourages my humanitarian ideals and reminds me that inherent rights are for all humans.

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MARTIN: That was Rachel Otwell, an intern here at TELL ME MORE, paying tribute to civil rights leader Bayard Rustin.

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MARTIN: And that's our program for today. And remember to tell us more, you can always go to npr.org and find us under the Programs tab. You can also follow us on Twitter, just look for TELL ME MORE/NPR.

Im Michel Martin and you've been listening to TELL ME MORE from NPR News and the African-American Public Radio Consortium.

Lets talk more tomorrow.

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