Mugshot Monday brings us this Federal Bureau of Prisons mugshot of Bayard Rustin, circa 1944. Recently awarded a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama, Rustin is one of our political, sartorial and intellectual icons of the twentieth century. He served as a leading force in the civil rights movement, consulted MLK on Gandhian tactics he learned in India and organized the March on Washington as a relatively young gay man. His activism extended into the remainder of his life as a civil rights hero and staunch advocate for lesbian and gay rights. His was a mission of integration, compassion and fierce self-love, and he never cowed to pressures from within the civil rights movement to hide or downplay his sexuality. “Physically, sexually he was the most compelling man I have ever seen,” Gay Morenus recalled of Rustin, whom she met in Chapel Hill, North Carolina three years after this mugshot was taken. With colleagues from the Fellowship of Reconciliation, he was there on a mission: use non-violent direct action to challenge state segregation laws on interstate public transportation; in this case, buses. For this pre-echo of the 1961 Freedom Rides, Rustin would eventually spend twenty-two days on a North Carolina chain gang. Rustin was no stranger to punishment: for refusing both the draft and alternative, non-combat service, the West Chester, Pennsylvania-raised Quaker had spent twenty-eight months (February 1944 – June 1946) in federal prison. Though he’d be arrested for civil disobedience many more times, one incident stands out. From the Chicago Defender, January 31, 1953:
Bayard Rustin, 40, prominent lecturer and fearless fighter for civil rights, was sentenced to 60 days in county jail on a morals charge on a guilty plea… He was arrested by Pasadena police last Thursday in company with two white men in an auto parked near a hotel. The other men… were given similar sentences…sexual deviates often referred to as “queers.”
Rustin believed that acceptance, diversity and mutual respect were the underpinnings of all strata of a civil society, regardless of the purported focus of any given movement. He understood love as the foundation for progress. What does it mean to love — to live — so abundantly? Described by an old female friend as  ”the best lay I ever had,” American political activism could well say the same.

Mugshot Monday brings us this Federal Bureau of Prisons mugshot of Bayard Rustin, circa 1944. Recently awarded a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama, Rustin is one of our political, sartorial and intellectual icons of the twentieth century. He served as a leading force in the civil rights movement, consulted MLK on Gandhian tactics he learned in India and organized the March on Washington as a relatively young gay man. His activism extended into the remainder of his life as a civil rights hero and staunch advocate for lesbian and gay rights. His was a mission of integration, compassion and fierce self-love, and he never cowed to pressures from within the civil rights movement to hide or downplay his sexuality. “Physically, sexually he was the most compelling man I have ever seen,” Gay Morenus recalled of Rustin, whom she met in Chapel Hill, North Carolina three years after this mugshot was taken. With colleagues from the Fellowship of Reconciliation, he was there on a mission: use non-violent direct action to challenge state segregation laws on interstate public transportation; in this case, buses. For this pre-echo of the 1961 Freedom Rides, Rustin would eventually spend twenty-two days on a North Carolina chain gang. Rustin was no stranger to punishment: for refusing both the draft and alternative, non-combat service, the West Chester, Pennsylvania-raised Quaker had spent twenty-eight months (February 1944 – June 1946) in federal prison. Though he’d be arrested for civil disobedience many more times, one incident stands out. From the Chicago Defender, January 31, 1953:

Bayard Rustin, 40, prominent lecturer and fearless fighter for civil rights, was sentenced to 60 days in county jail on a morals charge on a guilty plea… He was arrested by Pasadena police last Thursday in company with two white men in an auto parked near a hotel. The other men… were given similar sentences…sexual deviates often referred to as “queers.”

Rustin believed that acceptance, diversity and mutual respect were the underpinnings of all strata of a civil society, regardless of the purported focus of any given movement. He understood love as the foundation for progress. What does it mean to love — to live — so abundantly? Described by an old female friend as  ”the best lay I ever had,” American political activism could well say the same.


A gifted sculptor, Florida-born Augusta Savage fought poverty, racism and sexism to become a prominent figure in the Harlem Renaissance, the period of African-American cultural outpouring in New York City during the 1920s and ’30s. Her extraordinary talent opened many doors that led to her becoming one of the most influential teachers of her time and a strong voice for civil rights for African-Americans.
Born in Florida in 1892, she was the seventh of fourteen children born to Edward and Cornelia Fells. As a child, Fells exhibited a talent and a passion for sculpting small objects using red clay she found in her neighborhood. The habit often got her into trouble with her father, a part-time minister, who regarded his child’s handiwork as “graven images” outlawed by the Bible’s 10 Commandments.
Pictured here, The Harp, Ms. Savage’s legendary sculpture based on Lift Every Voice and Sing by James Weldon Johnson.
Read more about Augusta on this incredible blog about the history of slavery in the US, and watch a stock footage clip of Ms. Savage working in her studio.

A gifted sculptor, Florida-born Augusta Savage fought poverty, racism and sexism to become a prominent figure in the Harlem Renaissance, the period of African-American cultural outpouring in New York City during the 1920s and ’30s. Her extraordinary talent opened many doors that led to her becoming one of the most influential teachers of her time and a strong voice for civil rights for African-Americans.

Born in Florida in 1892, she was the seventh of fourteen children born to Edward and Cornelia Fells. As a child, Fells exhibited a talent and a passion for sculpting small objects using red clay she found in her neighborhood. The habit often got her into trouble with her father, a part-time minister, who regarded his child’s handiwork as “graven images” outlawed by the Bible’s 10 Commandments.

Pictured here, The Harp, Ms. Savage’s legendary sculpture based on Lift Every Voice and Sing by James Weldon Johnson.

Read more about Augusta on this incredible blog about the history of slavery in the US, and watch a stock footage clip of Ms. Savage working in her studio.


He who learns must sufferAnd even in our sleep pain that cannot forgetFalls drop by drop upon the heart,And in our own despite, against our will,Comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.
Robert F. Kennedy recited his version of this Aeschylus poem April 4, 1968 at his announcement of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that evening at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. King was in Memphis to generate empowerment and involvement among poor people of all races, and to demand of the US government a transfer from military spending to human services for the poor. The Poor People’s Campaign was his most controversial to date, and after his assassination, support poured in from around the country. The action commenced this day in 1968 with his organizers in the “King-Abernathy” suite at the Lorraine Motel where King was slain, and in Washington DC.
Five years earlier on May 2, 1963, African American children marched independently in Birmingham, Alabama to protest segregation. Some were as young as six. They were set upon by white police officers and adult citizens with fire hoses, dogs, and batons. They returned each day to march. Their movement became known as The Children’s Crusade. King was jailed in the city less than a month prior, during which time he had written his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” He referred to these protesters as “the disinherited children of God.”
You can visit the Lorraine Motel in Memphis — it is now called the National Civil Rights Museum. A full renovation and strengthening of the museum will be unveiled in summer 2014.

He who learns must suffer
And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget
Falls drop by drop upon the heart,
And in our own despite, against our will,
Comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.

Robert F. Kennedy recited his version of this Aeschylus poem April 4, 1968 at his announcement of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that evening at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. King was in Memphis to generate empowerment and involvement among poor people of all races, and to demand of the US government a transfer from military spending to human services for the poor. The Poor People’s Campaign was his most controversial to date, and after his assassination, support poured in from around the country. The action commenced this day in 1968 with his organizers in the “King-Abernathy” suite at the Lorraine Motel where King was slain, and in Washington DC.

Five years earlier on May 2, 1963, African American children marched independently in Birmingham, Alabama to protest segregation. Some were as young as six. They were set upon by white police officers and adult citizens with fire hoses, dogs, and batons. They returned each day to march. Their movement became known as The Children’s Crusade. King was jailed in the city less than a month prior, during which time he had written his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” He referred to these protesters as “the disinherited children of God.”

You can visit the Lorraine Motel in Memphis — it is now called the National Civil Rights Museum. A full renovation and strengthening of the museum will be unveiled in summer 2014.


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