Troublemaker for Justice: The Story of Bayard Rustin, the Man Behind the March on Washington

Book, 2019, 160 pp
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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.

'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. . . .

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.

"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

"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

"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

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

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

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