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The March on Washington, 1963: Continuing the Legacy

Today marks the 49th anniversary of the March on Washington. The National Black Justice Coalition takes a moment to honor the legacy of Bayard Rustin, unsung hero and chief architect of the March. The March on Washington organizer (also Martin Luther King’s closest advisor and an openly gay Black man) managed to pull off one of the most crucial moments of the civil rights movement.

Rustin embodies what is at the heart of NBJC's OUT on the Hill Black LGBT Leadership Summit – living authentically and unapologetically while owning your purpose and your power every step of the way.

To honor Rustin's courage and his invaluable legacy, NBJC has been spending this year celebrating the beloved "unsung hero" through its commissioned Bayard Rustin Centennial Project and in ongoing collaborations with Walter Naegle, Bayard's surviving partner and Executor/Archivist of the Estate of Bayard Rustin.

"Every year, during the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday we hear the iconic 'I Have a Dream' speech, which was delivered at the 1963 March on Washington," says Mandy Carter, one of the founders of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) and a current NBJC Leadership Advisory Council member. "Yet, most people do not know that Bayard Rustin, an out Black gay man, was the key organizer for that groundbreaking event. America needs to know that Bayard existed. Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and same-gender-loving people need to know that Rustin stood firm in his identity and, by his very presence, challenged others in the Civil Rights Movement to overcome homophobia."

"As a young Black lesbian coming out in the mid-60s, there were no representations of out Black lesbians and gay men in the media," adds Carter. "It would have had a profound impact on me to have had Bayard Rustin as a role model and to have known that I too could live authentically and be respected as an out Black lesbian social justice activist."

Continue the legacy. Own your power. Register for the 2012 OUT on the Hill Black LGBT Leadership Summit today.

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.