The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Alliance donated 262 books from its personal library to the Francis Harvey Green Library on Thursday afternoon, dedicating it the Bayard Rustin collection after the openly gay civil-rights activist. Why Bayard Rustin?”We?ve kind of taken him on as our hero in LGBTA,” said Jackie Hodes, Coordinator of Events for LGBT students and staff and Assistant to the Vice President of Student Affairs.
“We decided to celebrate him so he could be known,” Hodes said. “He did so many wonderful things for our society AND he was gay! These facts can cause cognitive dissonance for those who are homophobic, racist, et cetera.”
Along with being a civil rights activist in the 1950s and 60s, Rustin was a pacifist and openly homosexual. Quoting Rustin, Dick Swain, Director of Library Services said, “We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers.”
Rustin worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr. and A. Phillip Randolph in laying foundations in the civil rights movement. Rustin even was an advisor to King in organizing the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Most notably, Rustin, or “Mr. March” as he was nicknamed by Randolph, was the chief organizer for the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Under Rustin?s encouragement, Randolph called for the march, which turned into Dr. King?s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Rustin wasn?t without opposition. In July 1963, Strom Thurmond denounced on the floor of the US Senate the upcoming March on Washington based on Rustin?s homosexuality. Martin Luther King, a Baptist minister, defended Rustin.
Rustin is a prominent individual to the Borough. Rustin was born in West Chester in 1912 where he lived until he moved to New York in his late teen years.
Construction began in 2003 on a new West Chester area school, which will be named Bayard Rustin High School.
“We want to honor him and acknowledge the gift students are making,” said Chrissy Bushyager, graduate assistant for LGBT services. LGBT Services also offers a Bayard Rustin book scholarship to LGBT students.
Where did all of these books come from? They were rightin the LGBT Services office in was that no one was coming to check out the books. “We wanted to make sure our books were in a place where they would be most used,” said Bushyager.
Years ago, “students may have felt awkward checking out a ?gay book? from the library,” Bushyager said. These days that?s not a problem. Students are able to log onto PILOT and search for specific books, or type in LGBTA, have the collection appear on the screen, and then check the books out of the library.
The LGBTA started gathering their books together in November. This won?t be just a one time donation, though. The LGBTA will continue to purchase books and donate them to the collection. “It?s a line item in our budget every year,” Bushyager said.
How easy is it to donate books to the library? Very. “The Anime Club has donated a bunch of videos,” said Dick Swain, director of library services. Also the LUVIM series has donated materials pertaining to their topics.
Donations are not limited to student organizations.
“We?ll add what we don?t have,” Swain said. The only reason a book would be denied would be if the library felt it didn?t fit the curriculum or if a book was extremely biased.
To find out more about the Bayard Rustin collection, stop by the Francis Harvey Green Library or the LGBT Services office in Sykes 233.