I Must Resist

I Must Resist
Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters
Foreword by Julian Bond
Edited by Michael G. Long

NPR's "Throughline"
Feb 25, 2021

Bayard Rustin was one of the most consequential architects of the Civil Rights Movement you may never have heard of. Beginning in the 1940s he imagined how the tactics of Gandhi's nonviolent civil resistance could be used to dismantle segregation in the United States. He organized around the idea for years and eventually introduced it to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. For the rest of King's life, Rustin was one of his crucial strategists. But his identity as a gay man made him a target, obscured his rightful status and made him feel forced to choose, again and again, which aspect of his identity was most important.

Book recommendation by "Queer Eye's" Karamo Brown
Aug 2, 2019

A leader in both the Civil Rights and Gay Liberation Movements, Bayard Rustin has been a major inspiration to Queer Eye star Karamo Brown, who promoted Rustin's autobiography in a #BookPride video for Barnes & Noble. You can read about Rustin's life, in his own words, in I Must Resist.

Black Scholar

" . . . I Must Resist is an important contribution to Rustin scholarship. Long does an exemplary job of culling a dizzying array of correspondences . . . that provide a three-dimensional portrait of a figure who, despite being an integral part of the history of African Americans' struggle for equality, still gets left in the shadows."—E. Patrick Johnson,

Why MLK's Right-Hand Man Was Nearly Written Out of History
Jun 8, 2018

Los Angeles Times

"The first entry in that wonderful collection of letters is a missive to a Quaker group that Rustin penned in 1942. Rustin's grandmother was a Quaker, and the letter, titled 'War is Wrong' in Long's anthology, places Rustin firmly in the long tradition of American pacifism."--Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times

Short Documentary on Bayard Rustin and Walter Naegle
May 15, 2017

The only way for Bayard Rustin to legalize his gay relationship was to adopt his partner. . . . In the 1980s, openly gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, best known for organizing the March on Washington and advising Martin Luther King Jr., adopted his partner Walter Naegle for legal protections. In this intimate love story, Walter remembers Bayard and how they had to work around the system in an era when gay marriage was inconceivable. He also reflects on the little-known phenomena of intergenerational gay adoption and its connection to the civil rights movement.

- Super Deluxe

"Michael Long discusses the life of Bayard Rustin"
Sep 4, 2013

Michael Long discusses the life of Bayard Rustin and celebrating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington on KCAA 1050 AM. 

- Michael Long, The Kathleen Wells Show

"Mother Jones discusses Bayard Rustin"
Aug 27, 2013

"Michael G. Long, who edited I Must Resist, tells Mother Jones the accolades are long overdue. 'Rustin is finally emerging out of the shadows,' he says. 'This is a man who labored for decades behind the scenes. And he labored there willingly, but he was also pushed there and kept there and confined there by civil rights leaders.'"

- Lauren Williams, Mother Jones

"I Must Resist: Updating Bayard Rustin's Dream of Work for All"
Aug 21, 2012

Podcast interview of Michael Long about "I Must Resist."

- The Commonwealth Club

The Gay & Lesbian Review

"The letters in this book, which represent only a portion of Rustin's prolific output, provide a detailed, vivid, and often surprising look into his life and mind. They reveal Rustin’s commitment to speaking the truth to power, which he encouraged in correspondence with students, citizens, and politicians, including every president from Truman to Reagan."

—Jim Nawrocki

Friends Journal

"Rustin... was willing to challenge orthodoxies left, right, and center. And therein lay his greatness."

—Thomas D. Hamm

Fellowship Magazine

"This past March, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Bayard Rustin's birth, this collection of letters to and from Rustin written over almost a half-century was released. The second letter in the book is 'Rustin to the FOR Staff,' dated September 12, 1942, when Bayard was a field secretary for the organization, and includes these words, 'In many parts of this country I have found men completely cut off from a knowledge of pacifism. This is an indication that there may well be millions of men who would be eager to follow the truth if they could but hear it. … I therefore have a deep concern when I hear many FOR people across this nation say that they feel they ought to be still at this time. I believe this is the time to say louder and more frequently than before the truth that war is wrong, stupid, wasteful, and impeding future progress and any possibilities of a just and durable peace.' It seems remarkable how applicable these sentiments of 70 years ago seem today in the midst of the Afghanistan war and the use of drones and secretive military forces in other parts of the world."

"'I Must Resist' is a finalist for the Lambda Awards 2013!"
Mar 6, 2013

I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters edited by Michael Long is a finalist for LGBT Nonfiction in the 25th Annual Lambda Literary Awards!

- Tony Valenzuela, Lambda Literary


"The book provides insights into . . .  important aspects of protest. The letters are an example of a political activist's tireless efforts to promote American civil rights and throw light on the struggles one has to undergo against all opposition, especially when there are ideological differences: Rustin’s strongly held views on non-violence often clashed with other Trotskyite activists who believed that change was possible only through violence. Remarkably moving in their spirit and intention, the letters symbolise dedication to a political and social purpose intended for racial justice and equality."--Shelly Walia, Frontline, India

The Rainbow Times

"Collected from over more than four decades, these letters are a reminder that one man can make a difference. . . . culled with care by editor Long, who also provides scene-setting historical and cultural annotations." -- Richard Labonte, The Rainbow Times

"Southern Baptists, Gay Rights and the Freedom Rhetoric of Martin Luther King, Jr. "
Jun 25, 2012

Can homosexual rights activists be faulted for appropriating the rhetoric of the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King?  Michael Long, editor of "I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters" discusses.

- Michael Long, The Huffington Post

Philadelphia Gay News

"This collection of letters sheds light on one of the great overlooked activists of the 20th century. Each letter is prefaced by a paragraph providing context, helpful for those who don't have a deep knowledge of the events of that era. . . . His letters--some 150 are collected here chronologically--reveal an eloquent, persuasive activist, unafraid to challenge so-called authority figures when he encountered injustice."

—PGN Staff

"I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters"
May 31, 2012

CSPAN Book TV features Michael Long's event at the Schomberg Center in New York City on March 21, 2012, where he was interviewed about his book I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters.

- CSPAN Video Library

Would King Have Evolved on Gay Rights?
May 30, 2012

"President Obama's declaration of support for marriage equality has created an uproar in Christian communities across America, and nowhere more poignantly than in the Black Church where the President is largely admired, but which has traditionally been more socially conservative on issues of sexuality. . . . Professor Michael Long, who is the editor of 'I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters' explains that King's response was notable for how temperate it was given that during this time LGBT people were commonly referred to as perverts and sociopaths by religious leaders such as Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. and Billy Graham. However, Long is clear that King did not ever publicly proclaim or embrace the views that fuels the modern LGBT civil rights movement. In fact, King remained silent during the beginnings of the homophile movement of the '50s which, at the time, was taking inspiration from the black civil rights movement."

-- Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, Senior Religion Editor, Huffington Post

- Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, Huffington Post

Interview with Michael Long
May 20, 2012

PA Books, a book show that airs on Pennsylvania Cable Network, Camp Hill PA, features their interview with Michael Long regarding his book I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters.

- PA Books, Pennsylvania Cable Network

"In 'I Must Resist', Bayard Rustin lived a life with no apologies"
Apr 11, 2012

The Root DC discusses I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters with editor Michael G. Long and Bayard Rustin's legacy.

- Erin Williams, The Root DC

"Bayard Rustin: A Complex Legacy"
Mar 28, 2012

An article recounting the life of Civil Rights Activist Bayard Rustin and the current interest in the legacy he left behind. "I Must Resist: The Life and Letters of Bayard Rustin—a new book and collection of correspondence from Rustin as well as letters about him, including those from FBI files—shows a more personal side of the activist."--Yasmin Nair, Windy City Times

- Yasmin Nair, Windy City Times

City Paper

"In I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters, editor Michael G. Long assembles an impressive narrative of Rustin's remarkable achievements, helping on this 100th anniversary of his birth to revive the complex legacy of the civil rights struggle’s hidden man." --Edward Ericson, Jr., City Paper

"Bayard Rustin at 100"
Mar 24, 2012

The Indypendent discusses Bayard Rustin's legacy and involvement in the Civil Rights movement as an activist and why is name is widely unknown. "I Must Resist (ed. Michael Long) . . . put his story into fascinating, insightful perspective."


- Kenneth Crab, The Indypendent

"City Lights publishes new book of Bayard Rustin's letters"
Mar 22, 2012

"City Lights Books has published a new edition of the letters of civil rights leader Bayard Rustin,  I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters. March 17th marked the centennial of Rustin's birth. One of the Civil Rights Movement’s chief architects, he died in 1987 at the age of 75. Michael G. Long, who edited the 522-page volume of letters, answered some questions about Rustin and his meaning today."

- The St. Louis American

"Bayard Rustin Centennial Celebration 2012"
Mar 19, 2012

"This week From the Vault celebrates what would have been the 100th birthday of one of the unknown and unsung heroes of the American Civil Rights Movement, Bayard Rustin. From the Vault also chats with Michael G. Long, editor of I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters, a new book from City Lights Publishers which chronicles the life of the openly-gay and pacifist civil rights leader."

- From the Vault

"Duluth Could Learn a lot From Rustin"
Mar 18, 2012

Robin Washington of the Duluth News Tribune discusses Bayard Rustin's connection with The Civil Rights Movement.

- Robin Washington, Duluth News Tribune

"Recognition Overdue for Bayard Rustin"
Mar 16, 2012

Edmund Newton of The Root writes about the long overdue credit Civil Rights activist Bayard Rustin deserves. "He was an intellectual bank that civil rights and political leaders could go to for ideas," said Michael G. Long, editor of I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters (City Lights), scheduled to be released on the centennial of his birth."

- Edmund Newton, The Root

"Authors Talk: Michael Bronski and Michael G. Long on Bayard Rustin's Legacy"
Mar 16, 2012

Michael G. Long, editor of I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters, interviews talks with Michael Bronski about the legacy of Bayard Rustin. "From civil rights activists to performance artists, many this month are celebrating the life and legacy of gay civil rights pioneer Bayard Rustin who, among other things organized the 1963 March on Washington and was a cherished adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Rustin would have turned 100 on March 17, and his long time partner, Walter Naegle, told audiences at 'Voices Out Loud,' a recent Washington, D.C. evening of spoken word, film, speeches, and music in celebration of Rustin, that the work that the activist started 'is far from over.' Author Michael G. Long agrees. The editor of I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters, Long sat down with Michael Bronski, author of A Queer History of the United States, to talk about Rustin's legacy."

- Barbara Anderson-Minsall, The Advocate

"Rustin Instilled Power To The People"
Mar 16, 2012

"Read J. Edgar Hoover's letter urging then-Attorney General Robert Kennedy to take action against the gay super-strategist of the Civil Rights Movement, Bayard Rustin." --Michelle Garcia

This article also includes an excerpt from I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters.

- Michelle Garcia, The Advocate

"Bayard Rustin, West Chester's Gay Civil Rights Icon"
Mar 12, 2012

An article about Michael G. Long's I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters on Bayard Rustin and his contributions to the Civil Rights Movement as an openly gay activist.

- Marty Moss-Coane, WHHY Radio

"In Rustin's letters, 'lost prophet’ speaks for himself "
Mar 11, 2012

Bobbi Booker from PhillyTrib.com discusses Bayard Rustin's acheivments and legacy in Michael G. Long's book, I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters.

- Bobbi Booker, PhillyTrib.com

The Chronicle

"In commemoration of the centennial of his birth, a new book, I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life In Letters, (edited by Michael G. Long) has just been published. It is a volume that is rich in Rustin's wisdom and highly relevant to today’s debates over issues from gay rights to affirmative action."--Richard Kahlenberg

"Civil Rights Gay Pioneer Bayard Rustin Awarded 100th Birthday Proclamation"
Mar 7, 2012

The late Civil Rights Activist Bayard Rustin has been awarded a proclamation by Tom Bates, the mayor of the City of Berkeley, California, to commemorate the upcoming anniversary of Rustin's 100th birthday.

- Stuart Wilbur, The New Civil Rights Movement

"Late Civil Rights leader still building bridges"
Mar 6, 2012

Andy Humm discusses the openly gay Civil Rights activist Bayard Rustin's role in the Civil Rights Movement and how his legacy is still alive today. "Bayard Rustin did not just talk the talk, but walked the walk and paid dearly for it whether beaten on a bus he was trying to desegregate in Nashville in 1942 or imprisoned during World War II for resisting the draft and later for opposing British colonial rule in India and Africa."--Andy Humm

- Andy Humm, The Villager

"Bayard Rustin: the architect of the March on Washington you may have never heard of"
Feb 29, 2012

An article from Newsworks.org discussing civil rights leader Bayard Rustin and his contribution to the civil rights movement in New York City alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

- Kimberley Haas, Newsworks.org

Booklist Online

"Despite the fact that Rustin was pivotal to the civil rights movement, including organizing the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, he is not nearly as well known as others in the movement. This collection of Rustin's letters aims to set straight the record on his enormous influence. The foreword by Julian Bond lays the groundwork with an overview of Rustin’s life and the beginnings of his lifelong resistance to social injustice. The collection of 150 letters, arranged chronologically, reflects Rustin’s resistance to racism in the U.S. and anticolonialism in India and Africa. His politics (socialism) and sexual orientation (homosexual)  compelled him to stay in the background of the American civil rights movement. He was an adherent of nonviolence even as he aggressively pushed for change through protests, boycotts, marches, rallies, sit-ins, and other tactics, which sometimes put him at odds with others in the movement. Editor Long precedes each letter with historical context to reflect the state of national and world affairs from 1944 to 1987, reflecting as well Rustin’s own personal life as he writes of music, art, books, and his struggles with his sexual identity. Among his correspondents were Martin Luther King Jr., A. Philip Randolph, Ella Baker, President Eisenhower, the New York Times, and J. Edgar Hoover."— Vanessa Bush

"For Bayard Rustin's Partner, an Effort to Preserve Legacy"
Feb 2, 2012

"Rustin would have turned 100 in March, and Walter Naegle, Rustin's partner when the activist died in 1987, saw the milestone as an opportunity. The same characteristics once seen as a hindrance to the movement make him one of its most fascinating characters. Now might be the time to push Rustin’s story to the forefront of American consciousness, Naegle thought." --Robert Samuels

- Robert Samuels, The Washington Post

What did MLK think about gay people?
Jan 16, 2012

"We know what King thought about race, poverty and war. But what was his attitude toward gay people, and if he was alive today would he see the gay rights movement as another stage of the civil rights movement? That's not the type of question most people will consider on this Monday as the nation celebrates King’s national holiday. Yet the debate over King’s stance toward gay rights has long divided his family and followers. That debate is poised to go public again because of the upcoming release of two potentially explosive books, one of which examines King’s close relationship with an openly gay civil rights leader, Bayard Rustin. . . . King would have been a champion of gay rights today because of his view of Christianity, says Michael Long, author of, I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin’s Life in Letters."

- John Blake, CNN

Five Things to Know about Bayard Rustin
Jan 16, 2012

Read the five things you need to know about Bayard Rustin!

- Jake Speicher, West Chester Patch

"Brother Ousider: The Life of Bayard Rustin"
Sep 28, 2011


Since its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and its national broadcasts on PBS' P.O.V. series and on Logo/MTV, Brother Outsider has introduced millions of viewers around the world to the life and work of Bayard Rustin--a visionary strategist and activist who has been called 'the unknown hero' of the civil rights movement. A disciple of Gandhi, a mentor to Martin Luther King Jr., and the architect of the 1963 March on Washington, Rustin dared to live as an openly gay man during the fiercely homophobic 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

The recipient of more than 25 awards and honors, Brother Outsider has been shown at The United Nations, The Kennedy Center, and for members of Congress, as well as at hundreds of schools, community forums, labor gatherings, faith organizations, and film festivals; it is also being used widely in workplace diversity presentations at corporations, law firms, and other companies. To inquire about scheduling a screening at your workplace, school or organization, please send an email to info [at] rustin [dot] org"

In Memorium: Brother Bayard
Aug 28, 2011

"Bayard Rustin, even in today's more liberal climate than those he organized in for so many long years, isn't given his due for two main reasons: he had been a member of the Communist Party and he was gay."

- Denise Oliver Velez, Daily Kos

"Conversation with Julian Bond"
Oct 13, 2008

"Julian Bond in conversation with The Washington Posts's Jonathan Capehart, discussing the connection between the Black civil rights movement and the Gay civil rights movement."

- In the Life

"Conversation with Michael Long"
Jan 30, 2008

"Michael Long, editor of I Must Resist, discusses a previous book First Class Citizenship: The Civil Rights Letters of Jackie Robinson.  Interviewed by The Washington's Post's Kevin Merida."

- CSPAN Book TV's After Words