Bayard Rustin Sings

Most of you (I hope) know a little of the history of Bayard Rustin, and may have seen the headlines in Feb 2020 when California Governor Gavin Newsome posthumously pardoned Rustin for his 1953 arrest and misdemeanor sodomy charge. That shadow hung over him during all the years he worked with Dr Martin Luther King Jr as a champion in the Civil Rights Movement. The shadow kept him more to the sidelines although he worked as an influential advisor to King.

Working for many causes in his life he finally became involved in gay rights activism in the 1980s. In 1982 as a means of protecting his partner Walter Naegle, he adopted him, the only way then to form a legal bond for their relationship.

And in 2013 President Obama posthumously presented to Naegle, in Rustin's behalf with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Since his death in 1987, Bayard Rustin has been honored with many awards even including buildings being named after him, and he has been the subject of books and documentaries.

But did you know Rustin was a singer? Back in his college days, at Wilberforce College (Ohio) he sang and toured the country with the Wilberforce Quartet. He was already a Civil Rights activist when he recorded two 10" vinyl albums around 1952, singing spirituals and Elizabethan songs. In 1973 a benefit concert for the Young People's Socialist League, NYC, was recorded, with Rustin talking about the songs. That was entitled "Spirituals, Work and Freedom Songs," and was released on a cassette tape.


Hear the above LP


date unknown, probably early 1950s

Hear the above LP


Below, a live concert, 2/15/73
a benefit concert for the Young People's Socialist League, NYC
with Rustin talking about the songs


From the tape, Listen to

Oh Freedom (with intro about Juneteenth)

Hear the entire Tape

Below, late 1940s


Dr King & Bayard Rustin

Click to View

My Blog Post on Rustin

Wiki Bio


Rustin’s influence goes on, and one example is the sampling of a speech by him, used to start
off the hip hop track “We Out,” found on the 2004 CD “The Famous Outlaw League of Proto-Negroes,”
by Deep Dickollective. That group, led by Juba Kalamka, was a project by a number of some of the
most talented artists of that genre.

Listen to “We Out” by Deep Dickollective