Rustin's Quaker Background

Rustin Childhood

Photograph courtesy of the Chester County, Pennsylvania, Historical Society

Bayard Rustin, an African American, was raised a Quaker by his grandparents after his mother ran away when Rustin was ten days old. Rustin augmented his childhood familiarity with Quaker principles by engaging daily in Quaker meditation beginning in his twenties and dedicating himself, through committee work and peace testimony, to the principles of respect for every human being; non-violence in one’s behavior; and assertion of one’s own dignity. During his twenties, Rustin further reinforced his understanding of Quakerism by traveling as a volunteer throughout New York State teaching pacifism for the American Friends Service Committee.