Bayard Rustin and the Civil Rights Movement

Bayard Rustin and the Civil Rights Movement

Bayard Rustin and the Civil Rights Movement

Bayard Rustin and the Civil Rights Movement

Synopsis

"Daniel Levine has written the first scholarly biography that examines Rustin's public as well as private persona in light of his struggles as a gay black man and as an activist who followed his own principles and convictions." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Bayard Rustin was an inmate at the Ashland, Kentucky, Federal Correctional Institution from March 9, 1944, to July 1945. Ashland was one among a handful of prisons where the federal government, during World War II, housed conscientious objectors (COs). These were men who, out of religious or firmly held moral principles, were opposed to war or who would not cooperate with the draft. The prison was segregated, as were all federal prisons. "Negroes," the term then used, were downstairs, whites upstairs. An inmate committee worked with the warden on prisoner complaints and prison conditions, including segregation. When Bayard Rustin, as a black draft refuser, arrived in the spring of 1944, the other COs (there were only a half dozen or so at Ashland) pressed the issue, because they were separated from one of their companions. The prison administration did not explicitly agree to end segregation in the cell blocks, but on Sundays, during recreation time when the inmates could move around the prison, the door to the stairs was left open. Bayard Rustin was the only black inmate to go upstairs to the white cells. On Sundays he would join his white friends--other COs--to listen to the symphony on the radio. A white prisoner on the floor named Huddleston told Bayard that he'd better stop coming or he, Huddleston, would beat him up. Bayard skipped one Sunday, hoping that things would cool off, but when he next went upstairs, Huddleston got a mop handle from the utility room. He rushed at Bayard and hit him a mighty blow over the head. The other COs rushed between the two, wrestling for the mop handle with Huddleston. Bayard told them to stop, and Huddleston continued to beat Rustin until the mop handle broke. Bayard did not resist . . .

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