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The National Black Justice Coalition Praises Bayard Rustin for Anniversary of March on Washington

CONTACT: Anna Zuccaro |

WASHINGTON, DC — Today marks the 58th anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington, where hundreds of thousands marched to the nation’s capitol advocating for fundamental civil and economic rights for Black people in the United States. The National Black Justice Coalition is among the organizations endorsing this weekend’s commemorative “Make Good Trouble” Rally at the Lincoln Memorial. 

In response to the anniversary and rally, David J. Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), issued the following statement commemorating Bayard Rustin’s leadership organizing the event: 

“On this day in 1963 nearly a quarter million people marched on Washington to demand basic human rights for Black people in America. What many people do not know or celebrate is that Bayard Rustin, a same gender loving (SGL)/gay Black man, organized this monumental event from the ground up.

“Bayard Rustin was a master political organizer and pacifist. He spoke truth to power, serving time in prison for refusing to register for the draft and creating the first Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation on interstate buses. We would not have the opportunity to celebrate this meaningful moment in American history without Rustin’s tireless leadership and labor to the Civil Rights movement.

“As we honor the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. we also want to honor Bayard Rustin’s work in the Civil Rights movement. It is our firm belief that ensuring the contributions of Black queer, trans, and non-binary/non-conforming members of our community are recognized while also implementing bills like the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Equality Act will advance the legacy of Brother Bayard and the modern Civil Rights movement into the next generation, which is why we are supporting this weekend’s rally.”

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.