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Lost Prophet : The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin Hardcover – August 11, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (August 11, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684827808
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684827803
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,024,089 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

George Chauncey author of Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940 In this absorbing reappraisal of Bayard Rustin's tumultuous life and times, John D'Emilio shows how Rustin became one of the most brilliant and influential strategists of the peace and civil rights movements in the 1950s, and then came to be reviled as a conservative by many leftists in the late 1960s. D'Emilio also provides a stunning account of how Rustin's homosexuality shaped his career, as his foes -- from Strom Thurmond to Adam Clayton Powell -- tried to use it to discredit his leadership and force him into the shadows. This revelatory work of biography finally restores Rustin to history in all of his complexity and humanity. -- Review

About the Author

John D'Emilio is professor of history and of gender and women's studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. A Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities fellow, from 1995 to 1997 he served as the Founding Director of the Policy Institute at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. He is the co-author of Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America (1997). He earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1982.

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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By I. Sondel VINE VOICE on December 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
An exhaustive biography of the often overlooked archtect of the civil rights movement. An espouser of Gandhian non-violence and a mentor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Rustin was a man of fierce convictions, openly gay in a time when to be so jeopardized even his basic freedoms.
D'Emilio records Rustin's life warts and all. He documents his numerous arrests for acts of civil disobedience, for being a conscientious objector, as well as on a morals charge.
However, it is the triumphs that are most exhilerating to read about. The March on Washington, as one would expect, is a highlight. Finally, and definitively, the credit for coordinating this event is attributed to Rustin. In the face of extreme opposition from the likes of Strom Thurmond and J. Edgar Hoover, Rustin staged an event of epic porportion and historic significance.
Rustin was one of the great unsung heroes of the last century. John D'Emilio's biography, with a cast of characters that reads like a who's who of the twentieth century, is a tribute to Rustin and a model of its kind.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Marty G. Price on August 4, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rustin's story is a curious one -- how is it that a militant Quaker pacifist, a man who chose to go to prison during World War II, is found defending Lyndon Johnson's Presidency in 1968? The answer lies in the various tragedies of the '60's: the vestiges of the Cold War that shaped American policies; Johnson's ability to commit to progressive domestic policies but inability to shake free of the worst of the Cold War mentality; the triumphs and the tragic splintering of the American Civil Rights movement; and perhaps in Rustin's personal tragedy, that of a gay, black pacifist whose biggest political obstacle was not found in the radicalism of his ideas but in his attempt to live his personal life as a gay man.

D'Emilo appears to capture all those elements of Rustin, and suggests both how Rustin shaped those political movements in which he involved himself and how they served to shape him.

My students generally all are familiar with Dr. King's speech at the 1963 March on Washington. With few exceptions, however, they have never heard of the two men who planned the March: labor leader A.P. Randolph and Rustin. D'Emilo's book serves to remind us of just how much an injustice it is that Rustin's role in the Civil Rights movement has been so much forgotten.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By J. Kelly on March 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
"Visionary." "Inspirational." "Controversial." "Black." "Gay." These are some of the many words used as description for Bayard Rustin in Lost Prophet: the Life and Times of Bayard Rustin by John D'Emilio. He was a nonviolent civil rights activist who firmly believed in the effectiveness of this approach and, despite all of the challenges he faced, was impervious to setbacks - though he had many of them. The author portrays Rustin as one of the unsung heroes of the twentieth century and as an instrumental player in promoting racial equality who is often forgotten and lost in the shuffle of history. This biography is a testament to all that he accomplished; trying in earnest to ensure that his name and impact is no longer overlooked.

Long before the civil rights movement gained momentum in the 1960's, Rustin was deeply involved in promoting equality through the means of non-violence. Raised a Quaker the ideals of pacifism were well embedded in his philosophies that it was only after joining forces with other pacifists, like A.J. Muste, that they together formed several successful organizations. Though his participation in these associations, like the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), was impressive it was his personal efforts that were most notable. In the 1942 while on a bus he decided to move to the white section; a decision that resulted in violence he refused to react to and imprisonment.

As an African-American, a homosexual, a former communist, conscientious objector, and pacifist the challenges he faced were many. Not only was he battling the stigmas of his race, he was also battling the stigma of his sexual orientation at a time when recognition of homosexuality was minimal.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By David Phelps on August 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover
A extraordinary account of an extraordinary life. "Lost Prophet" is an engrossing account of how Bayard Rustin became a master strategist for the civil rights movement, despite significant homophobia and a smear campaign by government agencies.
For anyone seeking to making a difference, this inspirational biography by John D'emilio is a "must-read." It will renew your commitment to justice and equality for all, regardless of the obstacles.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Agie on December 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading this book for my class on The Civil Rights Movement. I have say this book was very good. It gave me much insight into how the movement was more complex than what I was taught in grade school. If you're one of the people like I was who thought Dr. King was the total force behind the movement, you must read this book. You will become far more educated on how much of an impact this man was not only to the Civl Rights Movement, but other endeavors as well. It is sad how easily Rustin has been tossed aside because of prejudice of all things. But this is why it is important to have books like this one that educates and informs.
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