Bayard Rustin (1912 — 1987)
A man of many facets and talents, of great nuance and complexity, an idealist and a pragmatist, a mischief-maker and a consensus-builder, a gifted orator and a dazzling intellect, Bayard Rustin remains unequaled in his effectiveness as a labor, civil and human rights leader. An openly gay man in a cruel era, Rustin's determination to achieve social justice and equal opportunity was matched only by his personal courage. He was among the first of the Freedom Riders. He advised Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the Montgomery Bus Boycott. He was instrumental in the success of organizations like the Congress of Racial Equality and Dr. King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He was a chief organizer of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, applying his deep study of principles of nonviolence to the demonstration. The lives of countless workers are better today because of Rustin's activism, but his most lasting legacy was articulated by late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan when he said: "He taught us love and gave us peace."