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Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  457 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
Bayard Rustin is one of the most important figures in the history of the American civil rights movement. Before Martin Luther King, before Malcolm X, Bayard Rustin was working to bring the cause to the forefront of America's consciousness. A teacher to King, an international apostle of peace, and the organizer of the famous 1963 March on Washington, he brought Gandhi's phi ...more
ebook, 576 pages
Published May 11th 2010 by Free Press (first published August 5th 2003)
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Peter William Warn

Bayard Rustin was a pacifist, a socialist and a black man. He dedicated himself tirelessly for more than six decades to activism around the world to promote peace, secure economic justice and eliminate racial inequality. Among his accomplishments was the pivotal 1963 March on Washington, which Rustin organized and from which Martin Luther King proclaimed to the world, "I have a dream."

Rustin also was homosexual, but he engaged in almost no gay activism. He might never have engaged in any if he
Mar 02, 2011 Ardene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been curious about Bayard Rustin for awhile, so when I ran across Lost Prophet: the life and times of Bayard Rustin of course I had to read it. I knew of him as an organizer with the civil rights movement that Martin Luther King, Jr. distanced himself from because of his past involvement with the communist party & his homosexuality.

I'm always surprised, and I'm not sure why, when I read about a figure I consider heroic to find out the depth and length of their committment to something.

Feb 09, 2009 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a great biography! The author had set out to write about the 1960's, ended up fascinated with Bayard Rustin and wrote a biography. Not only is it the story of an amazing man, but it's a history of the entire civil rights movement! Just extraorrdinary!
Dan Petegorsky
Jan 10, 2012 Dan Petegorsky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finally got around to reading this, and am really glad I did. D'Emilio succeeds in giving us a not just a wonderful biography, but also consistently clear discussions of strategic choices facing the civil rights and other movements from the '40s through the '60s, many of which are compellingly similar to choices we face today.
Gary Miller
Jan 17, 2010 Gary Miller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin by John D’ Emilio.

This 564 page biography is an excellent narrative of this civil rights leader.
A black man. A gay man. A Quaker. A pacifist. I found the book very interesting partly because I fit into 3 of the four categories, but also because I remember living through the black civil rights in the 60’s and also the Vietnam War.

Bayaard Rustin served time in jail because he refused to serve in World War I. He served time in jail because of his ci
Apr 01, 2010 Darryl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bayard Rustin was one of Dr. Martin Luther King's most trusted and valued advisors, but he was marginalized by others in the movement, as he was a Communist and an openly gay man. He played a vital role in several key points of the movement, and this excellent book brings his previously hidden story to life.
Feb 03, 2008 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bios-memoir
I learned vast amounts of information while reading about Bayard Rustin's life. He was a peace and civil rights activist from WWII up through the 80s. It was fascinating to learn all those details that I never knew and how his sexuality kept him marginalized, even though he was a major player in the civil rights movement.

Great read. Everyone will learn lots.
Feb 21, 2012 Wesley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The man truly behind the big ideas of the civil rights movement, and the execution of those ideas, was Bayard Rustin. His story is fascinating and important historically. His sexual orientation shrouded his visibility in the movement, but this book shines a light on his significance.
Nov 09, 2008 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting biography of Bayard Rustin, an important civil rights leader and pacifist. A recurring theme of the book is the severe limits on Rustin's effectiveness that resulted from the reactions of his fellow activists to his homosexuality.
Omolade Roddy
Aug 27, 2010 Omolade Roddy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nancy Mott
May 09, 2014 Nancy Mott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nancy by: Nephew David Fritts
I loved this book and highly recommend it. Bayard Rustin was a pacifist, radical, and brilliant thinker, strategist and organizer,and all these qualities were important to his role as organizer of the 1963 March on Washington.

The "lost prophet" part refers to the fact that as an out gay man, ("homosexual" in those days), he needed to stay in the background and indeed was *kept* in the background by other civil rights leaders who feared (as probably he did also) that his visibility could damage
Mark Ehlers
Dec 21, 2013 Mark Ehlers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bayard Rustin was an incredible human being who played a major, if understated, role in the U.S. civil rights movement of the 20th century. Largely overlooked by historians, John D'Emilio explains how Rustin introduced King to the principles of Gandhian non-violence, helped organize the Montgomery bus boycott, and almost single-handedly orchestrated the March on Washington in 1963. But he also details Rustin's many experiences and actions as a civil rights activist well before he met King; the f ...more
Jan 10, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an absolutely fantastic book. It's a thorough biography about the man who introduced Gandhi's nonviolence to MLK... although Rustin was deeply involved in the peace movement for decades before and after that. I learned an enormous amount about US history, activism, and one particular man who shaped a huge amount of how we view nonviolence in the United States.

A dense book, but so well-written that it was still easy to read and pulled me in. It was never hard to pick back up. Highly recommen
This book breathed life into a civil rights icon and illuminated the past 100 years of civil rights history like no other. I stumbled on Bayard Rustin in the exhibits at the superb Birmingham Civil Rights Institute early this summer. It was astounding to find that an openly gay black man was the principal architect of the 1963 March on Washington and served as a key mentor to Martin Luther King on Gandhian pacifism. Though I enjoyed Jervis Anderson's "Bayard Rustin: Troubles I've Seen," it focus ...more
James Carmichael
Sympathetic and detailed look at the life of Bayard Rustin, particularly focusing on his activities through the late 1960s (the latter part of his life is given very condensed treatment). Fascinating for anyone interested in the Civil Rights movement, pacifist movement, or the interactions and infighting between the new left, old left, and (i guess you'd say, and to a lesser extent) communist left in the US.

D'Emilio's central thesis -- that, for all the impact Rustin had, he might have had more
Jul 04, 2012 Michel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Michel by: Kate
Shelves: bio, pol
Bigotted civil rights leaders?
Now here's something I never thought… What am I talking about? The entire black leadership supported Clinton in '08 (Obama wasn't black enough, you see, having no slave ancestry…) until South Carolina proved their troops weren't following.
How fast things are changing: five years ago, Prop 8 passed in Blue California, and now we have even Republicans talking about repealing Clinton's Doma, we have the President's Inaugural putting Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall on
Ben Moody
Oct 19, 2012 Ben Moody rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The life and times of the forgotten leader of the Civil Rights Movement. He spent most of his life advocating justice and non-violent resistance, helping advance the causes of liberty and equality not only in America, but also around the world. Openly and unapologetically gay, he also helped advance the cause of gay rights in America. Largely forgotten today, this book will open your eyes and help you better understand that the Civil Rights Movement was more than "I Have a Dream."
Mark Hillsman
Jul 11, 2014 Mark Hillsman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent biography of one of the great unsung heroes of the American Civil Rights movement. Not for the casual reader and it helps to have some general knowledge of the movement and an interest in American history during the 40's 50's and 60's. If this is you, highly recommended.
It's terrible that his story isn't as talked about as that of Martin Luther King, Jr's. This was a great man, as well.
another good person to learn from in civil rights movement
X-topher Budz
May 22, 2012 X-topher Budz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bayard Rustin was a total babe.
While the book is full of fascinating insights and simply incredible tales - leading an anti-segregation campaign in the 1940s? In a federal prison? As a gay, black, draft-avoiding pacifist? Leading a group into the deep Sahara to protest nuclear testing? During an anti-colonial war? - overall it's a bit shaggy and could have lost about 100 pages. Some portions were truly a slog, like the endless office politics of the peace groups with which Bayard Rustin worked and even led. On the other hand, ...more
Alisha Davis
Feb 02, 2014 Alisha Davis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great read about the transformation of Rustin from outspoken, radical pacifist and civil rights leader to a more conservative supporter of the Johnson adminstration by the mid-sixties. By the end of his life, he was tired of being discriminated against within the pacifist and civil rights movements for his sexual preference and needed a reliable platform to stand on. Unfortunately, this cost him lifelong friends and supporters.
Rustin was an incredibly inspiring and important historical figure, and for the most part this book does a good job of placing him in the appropriate context. But it sort of loses it's way after his role in March on Washington. The last few chapters were a bit of a slog. I think because there ceases to be much commentary on Rustin the man and a lot of hand wringing about Vietnam.
Christine Sears
I am glad to have met Rustin in all his complexity. wish the book was a little better written but one certainly gets every detail from it.
Nov 02, 2014 Rob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic summary of many key events in the life of one of the many overlooked heroes of the civil rights movement. This was a great way to understand Rustin's work and some aspects of his life.
Bryan Schwartz
Feb 01, 2014 Bryan Schwartz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Repetitive at times, but otherwise a splendid biography of a man who deserve more attention.
Nov 23, 2014 Emilie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think I donated this to a university library after I read it.
Michael Andersen-Andrade
A speaker from the Bayard Rustin LGBT Democratic Club at a Black Lives Matter rally a couple of years ago sparked my interest in Bayard Rustin. Who was this gay black man who was an instrumental player during the Civil Rights Movement, an advisor and strategist for Martin Luther King, Jr., and an advocate for peace and justice during the most contentious decades of the 20th Century? After reading "Lost Prophet", I now have a new hero in my constellation of great Americans. Bayard Rustin's braver ...more
Julieann Wielga
Sep 23, 2015 Julieann Wielga rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was moved by this book. I did not expect to be. The book is stuffed with acronyms of political organizations working throughout the 20th century and in some way, it is lacking in Bayard's own voice. Bayard Rustin was born in 1912 in West Chester Pennsylvania. It was not until High School that he learned that Florence Rustin, who he had always thought to be his oldest sister, was actually his mother.He was raised by Julia and Janifer, who were actually his grandparents in solid quaker home. As ...more
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Marginalized 2 6 Feb 18, 2015 09:39AM  
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John D'Emilio is a professor of history and of women's and gender studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has taught previously at George Washington University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1982, where his advisor was Kenneth T. Jackson. A Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities fellow from 1995 to 1997 ...more
More about John D'Emilio...

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