An Introduction to the 13 Guiding Principles and the Legacy of Bayard Rustin

Bayard Rustin

Bayard Rustin

As part of the Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Schools, U.S. government teacher Ben Williams from Capital City Public Charter School taught a lesson titled “Getting to Know Bayard Rustin: A key leader and organizer of the Civil Rights Movement.”

Williams started out the class by analyzing the 13 core principles of the Black Lives Matter Movement and he asked students what they knew about Bayard Rustin. To introduce the lesson, students had to answer the questions, “Why do you think some individuals get excluded from major historical events and why others get remembered?" And “who organized the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963?”

Students filled out a know - wonder- learn worksheet while watching the documentary Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin. After certain clips in the film, students would share something new they learned. Several students were really intrigued by Rustin’s role in guiding Martin Luther King Jr.’s political and social philosophy on non-violence and what it meant to lead a non-violent movement.

Students were shocked that they didn’t learn about Rustin, especially his role in organizing the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Further, students commented on him being out and black at a time when both of those identities were violently discriminated against. A student stated, “Bayard Rustin should be a central figure in learning about the Civil Rights Movement because of his dedication to nonviolence.”

Throughout the discussion, students talked about the Black Panther Party, nonviolence and the legacy of that philosophy in the movement for Black lives today. Williams’s lesson fostered a conversation that led students to think deeper about the legacy Rustin left in connection with the Black Lives Matter Movement and LGBTIQA acceptance and leadership within the movement. The next lesson for the class will be the story of Althea Garrison, the first black trans person to hold office in the U.S.

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Thursday, FeaturedMykella Palmer