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AFT a sponsor of tribute to civil rights pioneer Rustin

Bayard Rustin, a longtime friend of the AFT and chief architect of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, will be remembered and honored during a tribute being held in conjunction with the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the march. The tribute's hosts are the AFT, the A. Philip Randolph Institute, the National Black Justice Coalition and SEIU. It will be held Aug. 26 at the Lincoln Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Bayard Rustin

Rustin is credited with mentoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and helping to form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the A. Philip Randolph Institute. President Obama recently announced that Rustin would posthumously receive the Presidential Medal of Honor.

In February, AFT president Randi Weingarten wrote President Obama, urging him to award Rustin the medal of honor. "As a lifelong champion of human rights and human freedoms, Bayard Rustin embodied the long struggle for democracy and human rights that characterized so much of the 20th century," Weingarten said. "I believe that if Bayard Rustin had not been so openly and proudly gay, this remarkable man would long ago have received the public acclaim that he so richly deserves."

The AFT's major civil and human rights award is named after Rustin.

Speakers at the Aug. 26 tribute will include U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, AFT President Randi Weingarten, AFT Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson, Clayola Brown, president of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, and Sharon Lettman from the National Black Justice Coalition.

Rustin's longtime partner Walter Naegle will share some of his memories, and a panel featuring individuals who knew Rustin well, including former APRI president Norman Hill, who participated in planning the historic march, will offer their reflections.

The tribute's program will include a segment of the video "Bayard Rustin: Brother Outsider" as well as recordings of Rustin singing and a performance by a gospel choir. [Roger Glass]

Aug. 19, 2013