WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Congressman Mondaire Jones (D-NY), and Congressman Ritchie Torres (D-NY) introduced a bill this week to create a stamp commemorating civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, coinciding with the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington and the anniversary of Rustin’s death.
“Bayard Rustin, whose leadership deserves special recognition by our country, was a key figure in the civil rights movement,” Norton said. “Rustin masterminded the 1963 March on Washington, successfully showing that his lifelong adherence to the nonviolent struggle for equal rights could be put to use in real time with the largest demonstration in U.S. history at that time in the nation’s capital. Our bill would create a commemorative stamp in his honor, a fitting tribute to one of the architects of the American civil rights movement.”
“Bayard Rustin was a leader in the movement for civil rights and a champion for LGBTQ+ justice,” said Congressman Jones. “But for far too long, he has been denied the recognition he deserves. Bayard’s example, as an openly gay, Black man, taught me and countless others the power of living as your authentic self and fighting for justice. I’m proud to introduce the Bayard Rustin Forever Stamp Act to commemorate his leadership and his lifelong commitment to advancing civil rights.”
“Bayard Rustin’s valuable contributions to our nation’s civil rights movement and LGBTQ community pushed our country forward and advanced equality and justice for all. This bill would create a commemorative stamp that would honor his legacy and ensure that all Americans are aware of his commitment to civil rights. I’m proud to join Congresswoman Holmes Norton and Congressman Jones in pushing this bill and look forward to its advancement in Congress,” said Rep. Torres.
Born March 17, 1912, Bayard Rustin became one of the most important leaders in the 20th century civil rights movement. Rustin learned the values of nonviolence and peacekeeping from his grandparents’ Quaker faith at a young age, and he would continue to build these values into his life as a civil rights movement leader. Rustin was an advisor in Martin Luther King Jr.’s inner circle as King advocated pacifism and nonviolence for achieving equal treatment for African Americans. Rustin executed aggressive but peaceful action in the civil rights movement and throughout his life as an activist.
His most important role was as the chief organizer of the historic 1963 March on Washington, the largest demonstration ever organized at the time, in which a quarter of a million people turned out to demand civil rights for African Americans.