The attached letter is what Bayard Rustin sent to the draft board explaining his refusal to participate in World War II. Rustin subsequently spent close to three years in federal prison as a conscientious objector.
A master strategist and tireless activist,
Bayard Rustin is best remembered as the organizer of the 1963 March on
Washington, one of the largest nonviolent protests ever held in the
United States. He brought Gandhi’s protest techniques to the American
civil rights movement, and helped mold Martin Luther King, Jr. into an
international symbol of peace and nonviolence.
Despite these achievements, Rustin was silenced, threatened,
arrested, beaten, imprisoned and fired from important leadership
positions, largely because he was an openly gay man in a fiercely
homophobic era. Five years in the making and the winner of numerous
awards, BROTHER OUTSIDER presents a feature-length documentary portrait,
focusing on Rustin’s activism for peace racial equality, economic justice and human rights.
Today, the United States is still struggling with many of the issues Bayard Rustin sought to change during his long, illustrious career. His focus on civil and economic rights and his belief in peace, human rights and the dignity of all people remain as relevant today as they were in the 1950s and 60s. (868k PDF)
Image above, Bayard Rustin & Martin Luther King.