Bayard Rustin, close advisor to Martin Luther King Jr. and key organizer of the historic March On Washington, where King delivered his iconic "I Have A Dream" speech in 1963, is being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The award is the highest civilian honor available.
The openly gay Rustin was, as The Advocate notes, the "lost prophet" of the Civil Rights Movement. Along with organizing the March On Washington, he organized demonstrations, rallied activists and lobbied politicians to support civil rights. He was also instrumental in King's embrace of Ghandian tactics of non-violent civil disobedience. Rustin died in 1987.
President Obama's recognition of Rustin's contributions to civil rights comes just as the 50th anniversary of the March On Washington approaches.
"Bayard Rustin’s contributions to the American civil rights movement remain paramount to its successes to this day," said HRC President Chad Griffin in a statement. "His role in the fight for civil rights of African-Americans is all the more admirable because he made it as a gay man, experiencing prejudice not just because of his race, but because of his sexual orientation as well." In all, 16 recipients, including Sally Ride, the first woman in space, will be honored.
All of this is long overdue, but what's really interesting is Ms. Donnie McClurkin herself will be performing at a concert being held at the site of Dr. King's memorial in D.C. later this month. Hmmm...an "ex-gay" queen performing at event commemorating a march a gay man helped to create. *Sips tea and cackles*. Oh the irony.