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Bayard Rustin to Be Inducted into Labor Department's Hall of Honor

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As we mark the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington today, Labor Secretary Tom Perez writes on the White House blog that in addition to Obama's decision to posthumously award gay civil rights leader Bayard Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Perez is also going to correct a longstanding oversight:

PerezI feel compelled, as secretary of labor, to pay tribute to him as well. My very first day on the job last month, I toured our department's Hall of Honor to see the heroic Americans enshrined there – Frances Perkins, A. Philip Randolph, Cesar Chavez and others. But where was Bayard Rustin?

He was one of our most tenacious fighters for the rights of workers, for collective bargaining, for the role unions play in expanding economic opportunity. The 1963 March on Washington that he organized – the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” as we all know, was the full name – was conceived as a demonstration against economic injustice. He understood as well as anyone that these two movements – civil rights and labor rights – are inextricably intertwined and their goals essentially the same.

So, I am correcting a longstanding oversight by formally inducting Bayard Rustin into the Labor Department's Hall of Honor.

Rustin was an openly gay man during a time of fear and intolerance. There was no Human Rights Campaign. There was no Pride Month. There was no “It Gets Better” campaign featuring some of the most visible public figures in America. Nope, “it gets better” was just something you had to believe when you told it to yourself.

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  1. "Rustin was an openly gay man during a time of fear and intolerance. There was no Human Rights Campaign. There was no Pride Month. There was no “It Gets Better” campaign featuring some of the most visible public figures in America. Nope, “it gets better” was just something you had to believe when you told it to yourself."

    AWESOME statement.

    Posted by: Caliban | Aug 28, 2013 12:29:52 PM


  2. Glad to see honor where honor is due.

    It's a shame, a true shame, that Rustin received so little recognition during his lifetime. But it's good to see him remembered and honored now, and to see younger people learn about his life and achievements.

    Posted by: K in VA | Aug 28, 2013 12:37:08 PM


  3. It's about time, but truth be told, I am surprised that it has happened in my lifetime.

    Posted by: Howard | Aug 28, 2013 12:53:25 PM


  4. Rustin was also an out and proud Communist so expect to see him expelled from Washington once again the next time we have a Republican in office.

    Posted by: Mikey DallasM | Aug 28, 2013 1:54:44 PM


  5. A gay communist community organizer. I'd suggest to you that in his lifetime that must have been quite a burden on both counts, from within the 'community' and from outside. The gay factor shouldn't be that big a deal in 2013 [even though I still black people on average in America are more prone to homophobia and antigay attitudes than others, primarily I think due to the still heavily influence of the evangelical black southern churches]; but, the communist angle still stings.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Aug 28, 2013 3:43:42 PM


  6. Awesome news.

    Posted by: Mel Smith | Aug 28, 2013 5:06:51 PM


  7. He's a GOD.

    Why, why...so little comments???!

    Sigh.

    Posted by: Rowan | Aug 28, 2013 5:10:53 PM


  8. would that the gay males of 2013 had an ounce of the courage and integrity that Mr. Rustin possessed.

    vanguard. hero. thank you, brother.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Aug 28, 2013 5:20:15 PM


  9. I suppose if you define "courage" as being an attention whore with a blog and pictures you claim are of yourself that make you oh so much better than everyone else.

    But most people know better, despite your disregard for the hard work so many people do without an interest in self aggrandizement or the pathetic and dire need for attention.

    Posted by: Meah | Aug 28, 2013 6:12:14 PM


  10. Jeez, Meah, your intensely hateful obsession with Kiwi makes you seem mentally unstable, at best.

    Posted by: Tobias | Aug 28, 2013 7:32:49 PM


  11. I'm still not sure where this perception that black people are more homophobic than anyone else comes from. *goes to NOM website and looks at pictures*...yeah...still not sure.

    Posted by: JP | Aug 28, 2013 8:06:32 PM


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