Photo credit: National Archives
Rustin was arrested in 1944 for refusing to join the U.S. Army. While imprisoned at a federal penitentiary in Kentucky, he organized other imprisoned conscientious objectors to engage in hunger strikes in order to desegregate the dining hall, recreation areas, and the chapel. A highly trained musician, he worked with as many as fifty other prisoners to present operettas in the prison. A former WPA school teacher, he taught civics to mixed race classrooms of prisoner-students during his twenty-eight months of incarceration.