As Pride month comes to a close, the Meany Labor Archive wanted to highlight the life and legacy of one of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s close advisors and mentors, gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin. In one of our last blog posts, co-written with University Archives, we explored the radical legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, specifically his ties to the labor movement. A key figure in the Civil Rights movement, Rustin advised Martin Luther King, Jr on nonviolent protesting, and was a chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington. And while the March on Washington is commonly considered one of the largest civil rights demonstrations in United States history, the largest demonstration was actually a system-wide school boycott in New York City, beginning on February 3, 1964. Over 360,000 elementary and secondary students went on strike, with many of them attending “freedom schools” that opened up around the city. And who did local leaders recruit to guide the protests? None other than Bayard Rustin. As the lead organizer for the strike, Rustin immediately solicited volunteers and met with church and community leaders to obtain their commitment to organize their membership for the strike. On February 3rd, 464,361 students did not show up for school. In freezing temperatures, picket lines formed outside 300 school buildings, and over 3,000 students marched with signs reading “Jim Crow Must Go!,” “We Demand Quality Education!,” and “We Shall Overcome!” And although the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) never publicly endorsed the strike, nearly 10% of teachers were absent, and the union supported teachers who refused to cross the picket line. The day after the strike, Rustin declared that it was the “largest civil rights protest in the nation’s history.” Prior to organizing two of the largest civil rights demonstrations in United States history, Rustin also played an important role in the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), which challenged racial injustice through the usage of “Gandhian nonviolence.” As a member of CORE, Rustin trained and led groups in actions against segregation throughout the 1940s.Continue reading
Hornbake Library’s Literature and Rare Books collection contains many excellent works by LGBTQ writers and artists. If you would like to learn more about works by LGBTQ people in Literature and Rare Books but aren’t sure where to start, we have the solution. Exploring Hornbake’s holdings from LGBTQ writers is easier than ever with our new subject guide, LGBTQ Writers and Artists in Special Collections!Continue reading
October 11th marked the 30th anniversary of National Coming Out Day, a yearly event that celebrates individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community who have “come out” to the people in their lives.
Special Collections and University Archives had the pleasure of sponsoring the UMD Pride Alliance event, “What’s Your Story?,” where students, faculty, and staff volunteered to create video testimonies of their own coming out stories. In addition to sharing their own “coming out” stories, interviewees also talked about their experiences at the University of Maryland, and how they’ve been able to develop their own communities on campus.
The video project, a concept created by UMD student Maria Aragon, is an extension of our LGBTQ Oral History Project, which began in April 2018. The project seeks to capture the history of LGBTQIA students, faculty, staff and alumni at the University of Maryland.
Post by Ashleigh Coren, Special Collections Librarian for Teaching and Learning
Speak Your Truth
The LGBTQ Oral History ProjectApril 12 & 193:00 – 6:00pmLGBT Equity Center2218, Marie Mount Hall
RSVP at go.umd.edu/queertruth
Looking to explore LGBTQ history, literature, and activism? We have lot of resources in Special Collections and University Archives that will pique your interest.
University Archives Collections
Gay Student Alliance – The Gay Student Alliance (GSA) was established at the University of Maryland in the 1970s as the successor of the Student Homophile Association (SHA). This collection contains newspaper clippings and editorials from the Diamondback chronicling the campus response to the gay community during the 1970s.
“Since 1979, when the Gay and Lesbian Labor Alliance was formed, Nancy Wohlforth has been working to bring gay issues into the labor movement. Now the organization is called Pride At Work and is a full-fledged constituency group in the AFL-CIO. National cochair Wohlforth and the newly hired executive director, Kipukai Kuali’i, will fight for domestic-partner pension benefits, greater employment protection, and transgender inclusion. They also want gays and lesbians to understand the power and benefit of unions. ‘Frankly, a lot of people still see the union as a bunch of old white boys who want nothing to do with their interests,’ Wohlforth says, ‘clearly that’s not the case.’
-The Advocate on Nancy Wohlforth in the Best and Brightest Activists collection, August 17, 1999. Continue reading
In honor of Pride Month, we are featuring items from the Labor Collections at Special Collections and University Archives that highlight the role of the LGBTQ+ community in the labor movement. This particular item will be on display in the upcoming exhibit, “For Liberty, Justice, and Equality: Unions Making History in America” opening October 2017. LGBTQ+ people of all types are involved in every aspect of labor, although labor unions ignored or excluded them until recent decades. The Pride at Work poster calls attention to the role the diverse LGBTQ+ community played in American history and American labor history and demonstrates a reversal of labor union policy towards LGBTQ+ people.