Troublemaker for Justice

Troublemaker for Justice
The Story of Bayard Rustin, the Man Behind the March on Washington

Moms Demand Action Book Club recommends "Troublemaker for Justice"!
Apr 20, 2021

"The Cultural Engagement team at Everytown for Gun Safety is thrilled to present the Moms Demand Action Book Club, a powerful resource for deeper education and dialogue for Moms Demand Action volunteers and chapters across the country. Each quarter, we'll present a curated list of books, sourced from Moms Demand Action volunteers, Everytown staff and Everytown Authors Council members and partners. They may not be expressly focused on gun violence, but instead will provide opportunities for chapters to connect their work with a larger cultural conversation."


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.

The ALA's Rainbow Book List includes "Troublemaker for Justice"
Feb 10, 2021

"This Book That Book" recommends "Troublemaker for Justice"
Feb 10, 2021

This biography of Bayard Rustin for young readers depicts his life of nonviolent activism and resistance. Recommended for Ages 13-18

"Family Equality" recommends "Troublemaker for Justice"
Feb 1, 2021

10 Antiracist Books for Young Adults
Jun 2, 2020

Troublemaker for Justice joins Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi, One Person, No Vote: How Not All Voters Are Treated Equally by Carol Anderson & Tonya Bolden, and Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults) by Bryan Stevenson on Kirkus's list of 10 great books on antiracism for YA to read now!

DC-Area Educators for Social Change recommend "Troublemaker for Justice"
May 15, 2020

Watch a lecture organized by Montclair NJ Lifelong on race, identity & Bayard Rustin
May 5, 2020

This class explores intersectionality using Troublemaker for Justice, with instructors Bianca Mayes and Lillie J. Edwards.

Chosen a "Best Children's Book of the Year" by the Bank Street Center for Children's Literature!
Apr 17, 2020
(Biography & Memoir, Ages 12-15)
"Committed pacifist, passionate human rights activist, and unabashedly gay African American Bayard Rustin is given his due in this thorough account. Photographs, documents, and bibliography."

Jefferson County Public Library Rec Reading List
Feb 18, 2020

Jefferson County, Colorado's Public Libraries celebrate Black History Month with a list of recommended reads including Troublemaker for Justice.

"Teen Books for Young Activists" at the Portland Public Library
Feb 17, 2020

What issues are you passionate about? This list includes nonfiction titles for teens on topics such as social justice, restorative justice, economic equality, the environment, immigration, feminism, LGBTQ+ rights, political engagement, peace studies, youth activism and more. They recommend Troublemaker for Justice !

Interview with Jacqueline Houtman on writenowcoach
Jan 7, 2020

"Troublemaker for Justice" makes the 2019 Nerdies, Longform Nonfiction!
Dec 31, 2019

Recommended in the "San Francisco Chronicle" holiday guide.
Dec 20, 2019

The Denver Public Library's Best and Brightest for Teens List 2019
Dec 12, 2019

Bayard Rustin is someone who stood up against injustice during the Civil Rights movements. This book details how his Quaker upbringing was influential to his pacifist tactics when fighting for justice. He mentored Martin Luther King, Jr. and many others who chose to stand up with their voices, not their fists. While an influential leader, Bayard's work and legacy was under-acknowledged because he was openly gay. This biography will open eyes to those looking for more than big names in the Civil Rights Movement. Rustin's philosophies and practices detailed throughout the book add a new dimension to a widely studied part of modern history in the United States. Throughout the book, there are grayscale pictures of his life, including his time on the chain gang while incarcerated.

Voted a BEST BOOK OF 2019 by School Library Journal!

"When people think of the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X may come to mind, but the contributions of LGBTQ activist Bayard Rustin, marginalized for his sexuality, have gone unsung. While King became the face of the March on Washington, Rustin was the man behind the scenes. This excellent biography brings Rustin out of King's shadow and firmly into the foreground, chronicling how his upbringing and Quaker roots acted as a catalyst for his lifetime commitment to nonviolent activism and equal treatment for all."

The "Friends Journal" on Troublemaker for Justice
Dec 1, 2019
"The goal of this book is not simply to inform young people about Rustin's life, but to inspire them to become social activists."

"Rethinking Schools" on Troublemaker for Justice
Dec 1, 2019

"Authors Jacqueline Houtman, Walter Naegle, and Michael G. Long provide middle and high school students with a biography of Rustin that illustrates how the personal is political. Rustin saw the nation's problems clearly and in a way that connected different forms of oppression. Young readers will take away valuable lessons about identity, civics, and 20th-century history."

Michael G. Long "Live at TeachingBooks"
Oct 18, 2019

Michael G. Long introduces and shares some of the backstory for creating Troublemaker for Justice: The Story of Bayard Rustin, the Man Behind the March on Washington along with co-authors Jacqueline Houtman and Walter Naegle.

Jacqueline Houtman Live at TeachingBooks
Oct 11, 2019

Jacqueline Houtman talks about how she created Troublemaker for Justice with co-authors Michael Long and Walter Naegle.

Book featured on SCBWI's Bookstop
Oct 8, 2019

Walter Naegle discusses "Troublemaker for Justice" with Broward County, FL, librarians
Sep 27, 2019

Review, Teaching Social Justice with Children's Books
Sep 1, 2019

"Troublemaker for Justice by Jacqueline Houtman, Walter Naegle, and Michael G. Long, is an exceptionally well written biography of Bayard Rustin for young adults. It covers his childhood with his grandparents, his teenage years when he really started to encounter and stand up against segregation, and his adult years which were full of activism and courage. Bayard was the driving force behind some critical aspects of the Civil Rights Movement including integrated bus trips, Dr. King's embrace of a philosophy of nonviolence, and the March on Washington. Still, his involvement and impact were hidden away from the public for many, many years. . . . Troublemaker for Justice is a book that belongs in every middle and high school library biography section and students researching the Civil Rights Movement should always be presented with materials that acknowledge his contributions. Bayard Rustin dedicated his life to the pursuit of equality and his is a name that should stand out in United States history."—Leah Cole

Review in Shelf Awareness
Aug 30, 2019

"The first YA book from San Francisco publisher City Lights, Troublemaker is an excellent introduction to the gay black Quaker called 'Mr. March-on-Washington himself' by friends and undercut by opponents for his sexual orientation. When South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond sought to derail the March, he targeted Rustin as a pervert. Philip Randolph, though, defended his friend and co-activist with a declaration of utter confidence in Rustin's 'character, integrity, and extraordinary ability.'"—Dave Wheeler

Bay Area Reporter -- Fall 2019 Books Round Up
Aug 27, 2019

"A Y/A book for readers of all ages, Troublemaker for Justice: The Story of Bayard Rustin, the Man Behind the March on Washington (City Lights Books) by Jacqueline Houtman, Michael G. Long and Rustin's former life-partner Walter Naegle is an historical celebration of Rustin, a mentor to Martin Luther King, Jr., and the strategist for the 1963 March on Washington."–Gregg Shapiro

Review in the Washington Post
Aug 20, 2019

"'We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers,' declared Bayard Rustin in the late 1940s. A proponent of nonviolent resistance and a stalwart figure in the civil rights movement, Rustin organized a profound and peaceful milestone in American history—the 1963 March on Washington. . . . Aimed at older readers, Troublemaker for Justice (City Lights, ages 13 and up) describes not only how Rustin orchestrated the March on Washington in two months but also how he stood up for his Quaker principles throughout his life. The three authors, Jacqueline Houtman, Walter Naegle and Michael G. Long, show the difficulties Rustin faced as a gay black man in 20th-century America, and that he shouldered them with strength, intelligence, and a quest for peace and justice."—Abby Nolan

Interview with Jacqueline Houtman in the Wisconsin Examiner
Aug 19, 2019

"We need him today more than ever," [Houtman] says. "There's so much injustice in this world. Not only was he just adamant about how he felt about injustice—but he was an extremely good strategist and organizer."

"An Open Book" — review
Aug 19, 2019

"The best part of this biographic profile is the skillful balance Houtman, Naegle, and Long achieve in the writing. They deftly explore rich details of Rustin's early years and beyond. Raised by his Quaker-educated grandma, Julia, he was inspired to relieve suffering, to resolve injustice, and to speak out rather then stand by in the face of war and wickedness. From childhood and on throughout his life, he was called on to demonstrate, time and again, that his actions would speak louder than words."—Sandy Brehl

Interview with the authors in School Library Journal
Aug 14, 2019
"Troublemaker for Justice Brings the Forgotten Legacy of Civil Rights Leader Bayard Rustin into the Light"
"School libraries are beginning to share his courageous story with hundreds of thousands of young people!"—Michael G Long, co-author

Youth Services Book Review
Aug 14, 2019

"What is most astounding about Bayard Rustin is that for all his accomplishments and successes, he is unknown to many. Despite the fact that he worked directly with Martin Luther King Jr. and organized The March on Washington, again, he continues to be unknown. Why is that? Because Bayard Rustin was gay. History wrote him out of many important events because of the prejudice and discrimination towards gays and lesbians during that time. Despite that, Bayard continued onward; not only helping those in the United States but also broadening his reach to other countries. What is clear throughout this book is an important message: everybody has the right to be treated fairly. Everybody has the right to be treated with respect. It is important to stand up to prejudice and discrimination no matter the circumstances. Although Bayard Rustin died in 1987, his messages still strongly resonate today."—Marisa Marion, Dutile Elementary School, Billerica MA, for "Youth Services Book Review"

Bayard Rustin | Making Gay History Podcast
Aug 13, 2019

For young readers, there's the biography Troublemaker for Justice: The Story of Bayard Rustin, the Man behind the March on Washington, written by Jacqueline Houtman, Michael G. Long, and Walter Naegle; you can find it, along with a teacher discussion guide, here.

Kirkus Interview with Walter Naegle
Aug 12, 2019
"What would Bayard Rustin say to young people who want to join in the fight for social change today?"
"[Troublemaker for Justice] is a road map that they can follow. Because when you are trying to build change in a democratic society, a society that is multicultural and pluralistic, you need to win allies. You need to build a coalition." Coalition-building was a critical practice for Rustin, who understood that progressive activists needed to cultivate a sense of shared belief in a cause among a critical mass of people through visible social action. "If you give them a plan, an organized plan for demonstrations, marches, sit-ins, any number of things, that's an appealing prospect for most people," says Naegle.

Publishers Weekly on City Lights's first YA title
Aug 9, 2019

 "Adult Presses Take On Children's Books: Indie publishers are expanding to reach young readers."

"If we're going to publish a book for this market, this is the perfect book," publisher Elaine Katzenberger says. "It’s a beautiful project, being a book about a gay black man who was an activist for peace and justice and a leader in the civil rights movement."

Publishers Weekly * Starred Review
Aug 1, 2019

"The publisher's first YA title urges its young readers to be, in the words of its subject, the 'angelic troublemakers' every community needs. Twenty-two brief chapters and black-and-white archival photos chronicle how African-American Bayard Rustin used his pacifist roots, intelligence, and gift of song to promote civil rights and peaceful protest in the mid-20th century. Although he was a primary organizer of the 1963 March on Washington and a frequent adviser to Martin Luther King Jr., Rustin was rarely in the spotlight, in large part because of his identity as an openly gay man. The trio behind the biography—Houtman (The Reinvention of Edison Thomas); Naegle, Rustin's partner of 10 years; and Long, editor of a book of Rustin’s letters—thoroughly illuminate this lesser-known social justice activist who was influenced by his Quaker grandmother. Despite arrests and discrimination, Rustin never wavered from his commitment to nonviolent direct action. Sidebar articles on topics such as Jim Crow and the Cold War provide historical context, and backmatter includes endnotes, discussion questions, a timeline, and a bibliography. A long-overdue introduction to a fascinating, influential change maker."

School Library Journal * Starred Review
Jul 31, 2019
"While still in high school, Bayard Rustin began his nonviolence campaign toward equal treatment for all. Rustin was raised by his grandparents in West Chester, PA. His grandmother instilled in Rustin her Quaker roots and beliefs of pacifism. Rustin always supported nonviolence in his quest for civil rights, even while he was being beaten and arrested. He was the man behind the scenes of the March on Washington. Posthumously, Rustin was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama. The award was significant because for the first time in history, the medal was presented to a same-sex partner of a deceased recipient. His story needs to be told, and the authors have done an excellent job writing it. Each of the 22 chapters is short and focuses on an important event in Rustin's life. The authors do not assume readers have a strong background in the history of the civil rights movement. Within the chapters, additional background information explains terms or events that may not be universally well known. The selected photographs chronicle Rustin at different points of his life. An extensive endnote and bibliography section can be found at the back of the book. A list of discussion questions will inspire deeper thinking about Rustin's life. In addition to civil rights, Rustin stood for gay and human rights.  VERDICT: An excellent biography that belongs in every young adult library. Readers will find Rustin’s story captivating; his story could encourage young people to fight for change."—Michelle Kornberger, Havenview Middle School, Memphis, TN for School Library Journal

"Social Justice Books:" A Teaching for Change Project
Jun 20, 2019

"Troublemaker for Justice illuminates readers on the life and legacy of Bayard Rustin. A notable civil rights leader, Rustin is often cast into the historical shadows of the civil rights movement in part because of his sexuality, political engagement with the communist party during the Cold War, and being a conscientious objector to World War II. Houtman, Naegle, and Long provide an in-depth history of Bayard Rustin's life, from his early childhood to his death in 1987. Inspired by his Quaker upbringing and the nonviolent direct organizing tactics of Mohandas Gandhi (Mahatma Gandhi), Rustin strongly believed in the value of community organizing and remained true to his values of equality, peace, and civil disobedience. . . .Troublemaker for Justice is a great resource for high schoolers and middle schoolers with an advanced reading level to learn about activism, nonviolent organizing, the civil rights movement, and LGBTQ+ changemakers. By providing an in-depth narrative of an often overlooked historical figure, this book connects the dots between the less-told Journey for Reconciliation with the widely-known Freedom Riders Movement. This book contains great explanations of complicated terms/movements/ideologies, numerous graphics, and some basic discussion questions to use in classroom teaching."—Conner Suddick, "Social Justice Books:" A Teaching for Change Project


Booklist * Starred Review
Jun 1, 2019

"Though little remembered today, Bayard (rhymes with fired) Rustin was a major leader of the American civil rights movement, a mentor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and a chief organizer of the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. A committed pacifist and believer in the power of nonviolence, Rustin was actively involved in civil rights protests, landing himself in prison 20 times by 1969. His commitment to human rights found expression not only in the U.S. but internationally as well. So why is he largely unsung? The authors (Jacqueline Houtman, Michael G. Long, and Walter Naegle) argue it is because he was openly gay. While presenting a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom to Rustin, President Obama confirmed this, saying, 'This great leader . . . was denied his rightful place in history because he was openly gay.' The three authors of this thoughtful and informative biography—the narrative text of which is greatly amplified by a generous collection of black-and-white sidebar features—have gone a long way to rectifying this injustice. Though the book lacks original interviews, further valuable information and insight are offered thanks to the fact that one of the authors, Naegle, was Rustin's life partner for the last 10 years of his life. This biography is an indispensable addition to the literature of both civil and gay rights."—Michael Cart, Booklist

Buzz at Book Expo America, Publishers Weekly
May 30, 2019

"At the show [BEA 2019] , Lewis is promoting City Lights' first YA book, Troublemaker for Justice by Jacqueline Houtman, Walter Naegle and Michael G. Long (City Lights, Aug.)."

Kirkus Reviews * Starred Review
May 22, 2019

"Readers are introduced to Bayard Rustin, a brilliant, black, gay civil rights leader. Principle organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, Rustin was a landmark contributor to many of the turnkey moments of the civil rights movement, though his name and the fullness of his life have been relegated to the shadows due to his personal commitment to living as an out gay black man and his youthful relationship with communist organizing which he later renounced. Over time many people would attempt to weaponize these facts against him, yet Rustin remained true to his convictions, and his wisdom and clarity would ultimately be valued by many of those same people and institutions. This brief but comprehensive biography, written with the help of Rustin's longtime partner, Naegle, and featuring stunning archival photographs, covers the legacy of a man who utilized the roots of his Quaker faith to uplift movements throughout the world. In clear prose with informative sidebars that provide important context, it follows Rustin from his pacifist beginnings to his work mentoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his later years traveling the world to support the rights of refugees. In today's political landscape, this volume is a lesson in the courage to live according to one's truth and the dedication it takes to create a better world. An essential guide to the life of Bayard Rustin, architect of critical movements for freedom and justice." (endnotes, timeline, discussion questions, bibliography) (Biography. 10-18)

Foreword Magazine
May 1, 2019

"Packed full of sidebars with additional context—including regarding the Quakers' views of civil rights, the nonviolent philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, and Jim Crow laws—the book also lists additional resources, includes a timeline of Rustin's life, and forwards discussion questions. . . . Troublemaker for Justice is a helpful primer for young readers about a civil rights leader who’s worth learning more about."—Jeff Fleischer, Foreword Magazine


A feature about Bayard Rustin by Samantha Bee on "Full Frontal"
Feb 24, 2019

In Newly Found Audio, A Forgotten Civil Rights Leader Says Coming Out 'Was An Absolute Necessity': NPR
Jan 6, 2019

Why MLK's Right-Hand Man Was Nearly Written Out of History
Jun 1, 2018

Bayard Rustin was an indispensable force behind the Civil Rights Movement . . . and openly gay.

Walter Naegle discusses his relationship with Bayard Rustin on StoryCorps
Jun 25, 2015

Long before same-sex marriage, "adopted son" could mean "life partner." Walter Naegle and Bayard Rustin became partners in the 1970s and were together until Rustin's death. Decades before gay marriage was an option, Rustin adopted Naegle to lend legal protection to their relationship. 

John Lewis discusses Bayard Rustin on Slate
Jan 15, 2015

John Lewis comments on the moment when civil rights activists opted against choosing Bayard Rustin, a key architect and organizer of the 1963 March on Washington and a close adviser of King's, to be chairman of the march. Rustin was gay and considered a liability because he had been arrested a decade earlier on morals charges. "He was pushed aside. He was brilliant, but they thought it would hurt the movement—that certain senators would use it against the march. It was wrong," Lewis remembers. “It was an affront to the man, to what he stood for, and to the contributions he made.”