Cover image for Troublemaker for justice : the story of Bayard Rustin, the man behind the march on Washington
Troublemaker for justice : the story of Bayard Rustin, the man behind the march on Washington
Physical Description:
xi, 160 pages : illustrations, portraits ; 23 cm.
General Note:
First published in 2014 in a limited edition produced by Quaker Press of Friends General Conference as Bayard Rustin: the invisible activist.
Out of the shadows -- One big family -- Steal away -- A determination to be the best -- We were rebellious -- The power of nonviolence -- Nonviolent direct action -- War is wrong -- "You don't have to ride jim crow" -- Jim crow army -- Chains -- A reputation in the field -- Bayard's Problem -- The Montgomery Improvement Association -- From the courts to community action -- Outcast -- Mr. March-on-Washington -- "I have a dream" -- Negroes are lying dead in the street -- We will try our best to carry on -- Fighting for all -- Let freedom ring.
Personal Subject:
Bayard Rustin believed that every human being deserves respect and dignity. As a child he was taught that we all have a duty to stand up to prejudice and discrimination, and that conflict must be resolved through peaceful, nonviolent means. And so, Bayard began to peacefully resist--in high school he was arrested for sitting in the "whites only" section of his hometown movie theater--no matter the consequences. Bayard Rustin grew up to become one of the key figures of the American Civil Rights Movement. He was a mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., teaching him the philosophy and techniques of nonviolent direct action. In 1963, he organized the March on Washington, one of America's most historic protest marches. And yet, he is absent from most history books, in large part because he was openly gay. This biography traces Bayard's lifetime of activism and highlights his fearless commitment to justice and equality for all. --


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book 921 RUSTIN 1 1
Book 921 RUSTIN 0 1
Book 921 RUSTIN 1 1

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Voted a Best Book of 2019 by School Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews!

A biography for younger readers about one of the most influential activists of our time, who was an early advocate for African Americans and for gay rights.

"Bayard had an unshakable optimism, nerves of steel, and, most importantly, a faith that if the cause is just and people are organized, nothing can stand in our way."--President Barack Obama

"Bayard Rustin was one of the great organizers and activists of the Civil Rights Movement. Without his skill and vision, the historic impact of the March on Washington might not have been possible. I am glad this biography will make young people aware of his life and his incredible contribution to American history.--Congressman John Lewis

"'We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers,' declared Bayard Rustin in the late 1940s. A proponent of nonviolent resistance and a stalwart figure in the civil rights movement, Rustin organized a profound and peaceful milestone in American history--the 1963 March on Washington. . . . Troublemaker for Justice describes not only how Rustin orchestrated the March on Washington in two months but also how he stood up for his Quaker principles throughout his life. The three authors, Jacqueline Houtman, Walter Naegle and Michael G. Long, show the difficulties Rustin faced as a gay black man in 20th-century America, and that he shouldered them with strength, intelligence, and a quest for peace and justice."--Abby Nolan,The Washington Post

"An excellent biography that belongs in every young adult library. Readers will find Rustin's story captivating; his story could encourage young people to fight for change."--Michelle Kornberger, Library Journal ,*Starred Review

"In today's political landscape, this volume is a lesson in the courage to live according to one's truth and the dedication it takes to create a better world."--Kirkus Reviews, *Starred Review

"A long-overdue introduction to a fascinating, influential change maker."--Publishers Weekly, *Starred Review

"This biography is an indispensable addition to the literature of both civil and gay rights."--Michael Cart,Booklist, *Starred review

Bayard Rustin was a major figure in the Civil Rights movement. He was arrested on a bus 13 years before Rosa Parks and he participated in integrated bus rides throughout the South 14 years before the Freedom Riders. He was a mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., teaching him the techniques and philosophy of Gandhian nonviolent direct action. He organized the March on Washington in 1963, one of the most impactful mobilizations in American history.

Despite these contributions, few Americans recognize his name, and he is absent from most history books, in large part because he was gay. This biography traces Rustin's life, from his childhood and his first arrest in high school for sitting in the "whites only" section of a theater, through a lifetime of nonviolent activism.

"Authors Jacqueline Houtman, Walter Naegle, and Michael G. Long provide middle and high school students with a biography of Rustin that illustrates how the personal is political. Young readers will take away valuable lessons about identity, civics, and 20th-century history."--Rethinking Schools

Teachers: Discussion Guide Available! Explanation of Common Core Instructional Standards Available! Reach out to the publisher at Stacey [@]

Author Notes

Michael G. Long received his Ph.D. at Emory University. He teaches religion and ethics at Lebanon Valley College.

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

The publisher's first YA title urges its young readers to be, in the words of its subject, the "angelic troublemakers" every community needs. Twenty-two brief chapters and black-and-white archival photos chronicle how African-American Bayard Rustin used his pacifist roots, intelligence, and gift of song to promote civil rights and peaceful protest in the mid-20th century. Although he was a primary organizer of the 1963 March on Washington and a frequent adviser to Martin Luther King Jr., Rustin was rarely in the spotlight, in large part because of his identity as an openly gay man. The trio behind the biography--Houtman (The Reinvention of Edison Thomas); Naegle, Rustin's partner of 10 years; and Long, editor of a book of Rustin's letters--thoroughly illuminate this lesser-known social justice activist who was influenced by his Quaker grandmother. Despite arrests and discrimination, Rustin never wavered from his commitment to nonviolent direct action. Sidebar articles on topics such as Jim Crow and the Cold War provide historical context, and backmatter includes endnotes, discussion questions, a timeline, and a bibliography. A long-overdue introduction to a fascinating, influential change maker. Ages 13--up. (Aug.)

Booklist Review

Though little remembered today, Bayard (rhymes with fired) Rustin was a major leader of the American civil rights movement, a mentor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and a chief organizer of the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. A committed pacifist and believer in the power of nonviolence, Rustin was actively involved in civil rights protests, landing himself in prison 20 times by 1969. His commitment to human rights found expression not only in the U.S. but internationally as well. So why is he largely unsung? The authors (Jacqueline Houtman, Michael G. Long, and Walter Naegle) argue it is because of his sexuality. While presenting a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom to Rustin, President Barack Obama confirmed this, saying, This great leader . . . was denied his rightful place in history because he was openly gay. The three authors of this thoughtful and informative biography the narrative text of which is greatly amplified by a generous collection of black-and-white pictures and sidebar features have gone a long way to rectifying this injustice. Though the book lacks original interviews, further valuable information and insight are offered thanks to the fact that one of the authors, Naegle, was Rustin's life partner for the last 10 years of his life. This biography is an indispensable addition to the literature of both civil and gay rights.--Michael Cart Copyright 2019 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up--While still in high school, Bayard Rustin began his nonviolence campaign toward equal treatment for all. Rustin was raised by his grandparents in West Chester, PA. His grandmother instilled in Rustin her Quaker roots and beliefs of pacifism. Rustin always supported nonviolence in his quest for civil rights, even while he was being beaten and arrested. He was the man behind the scenes of the March on Washington. Posthumously, Rustin was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama. The award was significant because for the first time in history, the medal was presented to a same-sex partner of a deceased recipient. His story needs to be told, and the authors have done an excellent job writing it. Each of the 22 chapters is short and focuses on an important event in Rustin's life. The authors do not assume readers have a strong background in the history of the civil rights movement. Within the chapters, additional background information explains terms or events that may not be universally well known. The selected photographs chronicle Rustin at different points of his life. An extensive endnote and bibliography section can be found at the back of the book. A list of discussion questions will inspire deeper thinking about Rustin's life. In addition to civil rights, Rustin stood for gay and human rights. VERDICT An excellent biography that belongs in every young adult library. Readers will find Rustin's story captivating; his story could encourage young people to fight for change.--Michelle Kornberger, Havenview Middle School, Memphis

Kirkus Review

Readers are introduced to Bayard Rustin, a brilliant, black, gay civil rights leader. Principle organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, Rustin was a landmark contributor to many of the turnkey moments of the civil rights movement, though his name and the fullness of his life have been relegated to the shadows due to his personal commitment to living as an out gay black man and his youthful relationship with communist organizing which he later renounced. Over time many people would attempt to weaponize these facts against him, yet Rustin remained true to his convictions, and his wisdom and clarity would ultimately be valued by many of those same people and institutions. This brief but comprehensive biography, written with the help of Rustin's longtime partner, Naegle, and featuring stunning archival photographs, covers the legacy of a man who utilized the roots of his Quaker faith to uplift movements throughout the world. In clear prose with informative sidebars that provide important context, it follows Rustin from his pacifist beginnings to his work mentoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his later years traveling the world to support the rights of refugees. In today's political landscape, this volume is a lesson in the courage to live according to one's truth and the dedication it takes to create a better world. An essential guide to the life of Bayard Rustin, architect of critical movements for freedom and justice. (endnotes, timeline, discussion questions, bibliography) (Biography. 10-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
A Few Words about Wordsp. xi
Chapter 1 Out of the Shadowsp. 1
Chapter 2 One Big Familyp. 5
Chapter 3 Steal Awayp. 13
Chapter 4 A Determination to Be the Bestp. 19
Chapter 5 We Were Rebelliousp. 27
Chapter 6 The Power of Nonviolencep. 35
Chapter 7 Nonviolent Direct Actionp. 43
Chapter 8 War is Wrongp. 49
Chapter 9 "You Don't Have to Ride Jim Crow"p. 57
Chapter 10 Jim Crow Armyp. 65
Chapter 11 Chainsp. 71
Chapter 12 A Reputation in the Fieldp. 77
Chapter 13 Bayard's Problemp. 81
Chapter 14 The Montgomery Improvement Associationp. 85
Chapter 15 From the Courts to Community Actionp. 93
Chapter 16 Outcastp. 99
Chapter 17 Mr. March-on-Washingtonp. 103
Chapter 18 "I Have a Dream"p. 109
Chapter 19 Negroes Are Lying Dead in the Streetp. 115
Chapter 20 We Will Try Our Best to Carry Onp. 123
Chapter 21 Fighting for Allp. 129
Chapter 22 Let Freedom Ringp. 137
Things to Think Aboutp. 143
Important Events in Bayard Rustin's Lifep. 144
Endnotesp. 146
Bibliographyp. 151
About the Authorsp. 153
Indexp. 155
Acknowledgmentsp. 160