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Obama Awards Bayard Rustin The Presidential Medal Of Freedom

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Civil rights leader Bayard Rustin is shown at the N.Y. Hilton in this Dec. 14, 1970 photo.
AP Photo/RF
Civil rights leader Bayard Rustin is shown at the N.Y. Hilton in this Dec. 14, 1970 photo.

Months before Martin Luther King Jr. declared "I Have a Dream" to galvanize a crowd of thousands, Bayard Rustin was planning all the essential details to make the 1963 March on Washington a success.

Rustin, who died in 1987, is sometimes forgotten in Civil Rights history. He was a Quaker and pacifist who opposed the Vietnam War and had flirted with communism. He was also gay and often considered an outcast.

Fifty years later, Rustin's legacy is a key part of the March anniversary. Civil rights leaders are planning an unprecedented inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people this month as part of a larger movement calling for equal rights for all.

President Obama also plans to honor Rustin this year with a Presidential Medal of Freedom.


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