Bayard Rustin, organizer of the March on Washington, was crucial to the movement

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It was around this point in August 1963, in the sweltering days before the March on Washington, that Eleanor Holmes Norton was waiting for someone to say something really nasty about her boss.

She was a march volunteer. The boss was Bayard Rustin, the march’s chief organizer and the man widely viewed as the only civil rights activist capable of pulling off a protest of such unprecedented scale.

And he was gay. Openly gay. That year again? 1963.

“I was sure the attacks would come because I knew what they could attack Bayard for,” says Norton, now the District’s nonvoting delegate to Congress.

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom will be forever known as the day that ensured the success of the civil rights movement and launched the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. into the highest pantheon of American champions. Next week, on the 48th anniversary of the march, King will be anointed into that ultra-selective fraternity of national leaders memorialized on the Mall....

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