Bayard Rustin was an American leader in social movements for civil rights, socialism, nonviolence, and gay rights. He was born and raised in Pennsylvania, where his family was involved in civil rights work.
In 1936, he moved to Harlem, New York City, where he earned a living as a nightclub and stage singer. He continued activism for civil rights.
In the pacifist groups Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) and the War Resisters League (WRL), Rustin practiced nonviolence. A member of the Communist Party before 1941, he collaborated with A. Philip Randolph on the March on Washington Movement in 1941 to press for an end to discrimination in employment.