By Jacqueline Houtman, Walter Naegle, and Michael G. Long
166 pages – ages 10+
Published by QuakerPress of FGC on November 13, 2014
Summary – (from GoodReads) “We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers” -Bayard Rustin Bayard Rustin: The Invisible Activist is a new biography for ages 10 and up. . . To many, the civil rights movement brings to mind protests, marches, boycotts, and freedom rides. They often think of people like Martin Luther King, Jr. or Rosa Parks. They seldom think of Bayard Rustin. Raised by his Quaker grandmother to believe in the value of every human being, Bayard made trouble wherever he saw injustice. As a teenager, he was arrested for sitting in the whites only section of a theater. More arrests followed, for protesting against segregation, discrimination, and war. His belief in nonviolent action as a means for social change gave him a guiding vision for the civil rights movement, which he used to mentor the young Martin Luther King, Jr. When A. Philip Randolph needed the best organizer on the planet, he turned to Bayard Rustin to bring 250,000 people to the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Illustrated with over sixty photos, this book is the product of a unique collaboration between three authors: Bayard’s partner of ten years, a professor of religious studies, and a children’s book author. Though he is largely ignored in history books, Bayard’s ideas and actions will inspire today’s young (and not-so-young) readers to be angelic troublemakers.
What I Thought – There is obviously a great need for this book because Bayard Rustin is a name I have never heard. I’ve studied the Civil Rights movement in school and it is sad I have never heard of Mr. Rustin. I was interested that Mr. Rustin grew up as a Quaker (his grandmother was a Quaker and she raised him). He grew up near where I used to live. His upbringing gave Mr. Rustin a desire to bring change through peaceful means or passive resistance. I also found it very interesting that Mr. Rustin was himself discriminated against by some of the very people he was trying to help during the Civil Rights movement, because of him being gay. The book is not just a good resource on Mr. Rustin, but also a good resource for information on the Civil Rights movement, segregation and pacifism. There is a ton of references in the back for further reading or to see where the information in the book comes from. There are little fact boxes spread through the book that gives details on some of the subjects touched upon in the book. Photographs of historical and events in Mr. Rustin’s life are sprinkled in the book. They add a level of interest to the story. The one issue I had with the book is that it reads more like a text book than a book kids will pick up to read. Having said that, I think the book would be an excellent resource for teachers when they are covering the Civil Rights movement in their class.