Bayard Rustin Quotes

Bayard Rustin (/?ba??rd/; March 17, 1912 – August 24, 1987) was an American leader in social movements for civil rights, socialism, nonviolence, and gay rights. He was born and raised in Pennsylvania, where his family was involved in civil rights work. In 1936, he moved to Harlem, New York City, where he earned a living as a nightclub and stage singer. He continued activism for civil rights.

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Bayard Rustin


I have seen periods of progress followed by reaction. I have seen the hopes and aspirations of Negroes rise during World War II, only to be smashed during the Eisenhower years. I am seeing the victories of the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations destroyed by Richard Nixon.

Bayard Rustin


We demand that segregation be ended in every school district in the year 1963! We demand that we have effective civil rights legislation - no compromise, no filibuster - and that include public accommodations, decent housing, integrated education, FEPC and the right to vote.

Bayard Rustin


The principal factors which influenced my life are 1) nonviolent tactics; 2) constitutional means; 3) democratic procedures; 4) respect for human personality; 5) a belief that all people are one.

Bayard Rustin


If we desire a society of peace, then we cannot achieve such a society through violence. If we desire a society without discrimination, then we must not discriminate against anyone in the process of building this society. If we desire a society that is democratic, then democracy must become a means as well as an end.

Bayard Rustin


I am an opponent of war and of war preparations and an opponent of universal military training and conscription; but entirely apart from that issue, I hold that segregation in any part of the body politic is an act of slavery and an act of war.

Bayard Rustin


Martin Luther King, with whom I worked very closely, became very distressed when a number of the ministers working for him wanted him to dismiss me from his staff because of my homosexuality.

Bayard Rustin


War is wrong. Conscription for war is inconsistent with freedom of conscience, which is not merely the right to believe but to act on the degree of truth that one receives, to follow a vocation which is God-inspired and God-directed.

Bayard Rustin


I am a Quaker. And as everyone knows, Quakers, for 300 years, have, on conscientious ground, been against participating in war. I was sentenced to three years in federal prison because I could not religiously and conscientiously accept killing my fellow man.

Bayard Rustin


My activism did not spring from my being gay, or, for that matter, from my being black. Rather, it is rooted fundamentally in my Quaker upbringing and the values that were instilled in me by my grandparents who reared me.

Bayard Rustin


Surely, I must at all times attempt to obey the law of the state. But when the will of God and the will of the state conflict, I am compelled to follow the will of God.

Bayard Rustin


If we desire a society in which men are brothers, then we must act towards one another with brotherhood. If we can build such a society, then we would have achieved the ultimate goal of human freedom.

Bayard Rustin


We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers.

Bayard Rustin


Conscription for war is inconsistent with freedom of conscience, which is not merely the right to believe but to act on the degree of truth that one receives, to follow a vocation which is God-inspired and God-directed.

Bayard Rustin


The barometer for judging the character of people, in regard human rights, is now those who consider themselves gay, homosexual, lesbian. The judgment as to whether you can trust the future, the social advancement - depending on people - will be judged on where they come out on that question.

Bayard Rustin


I believe in social dislocation and creative trouble.

Bayard Rustin