Bayard Rustin: Truth in History

by: 
Jennifer Chinn and Fr. Matt Welsch

"God does not require us to achieve any of the good tasks that humanity must pursue. What God requires of us is that we not stop trying."

-Bayard Rustin


Knowing our history, and particularly telling the truth about our history, is an important part of knowing ourselves and our communities. Exploring this theme of "Truth in History," which was born out of the Trinity Youth Statement this past summer, is a long-term commitment by Trinity Youth to know ourselves, our past, and our future. Programming kicked off in January with MLK Truth in History, an exploration of the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.planned and led by young people. The event focused on the aspects of Dr. King’s story that aren’t popularized in mainstream media and lifted up some of the stories of other participants and leaders in the movement – both then and now. 

Bayard Rustin is one such figure. Rustin was a pivotal leader in the Civil Rights Movement, and possibly someone you haven’t heard of. Despite his skills as an organizer, author, and activist, Rustin was sidelined by many in the movement and then largely ignored by historians because of his refusal to deny his sexuality. Black history is American history. LGBTQ* history is American history. 

Join us as we learn more about his legacy by watching Brother Outsider, a documentary about the personal life and public activism of Bayard Rustin. The film will be available on-demand starting February 22, so you can watch it on your own or with a group! On Thursday, February 25 at 5:30pm, we invite the Trinity Community to join our watch party of the film. After the movie, we’ll host a youth panel to discuss the themes of the film led by Eric Vaughan, the GSA program manager at the NYC Department of Education. If you attended MLK Jr. Day Truth In History, you’ll recognize Youssef El Mosalami and Tyrik Washington, two of our panelists who were part of the team that planned, taught, and led that event. 

We encourage teachers and youth workers to check out this curriculum by Frameline. It’s pretty great: Frameline does an excellent job of providing guidelines for discussing LGBTQ identities in the classroom, and excellent background and frameworks for discussing the film in various settings.

One last thing: if you are a young person age 13 to 19 and would like to join the Truth in History movement, we invite you to apply to be a Trinity Youth History Fellow this summer. This paid six-week summer fellowship invites NYC high school students to make use of the nationally significant documents of Trinity Church Wall Street along with other archives in the city to create a research project of their choosing with instruction and mentorship from the Trinity Archives team and Youth Staff. Because studying history includes making it.

Until soon,
Jenn and Matt+


Bayard RustinMore about Pride 365 Family Film Screening and Q&A — Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin 

Thursday, February 25, 5:30pm Trinity Watch Party, 7pm Livestream Q&A; Register for Free

Join Trinity and Newfest for a free virtual film screening of Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin. This award-winning documentary illuminates the public and private lives of Bayard Rustin, a visionary activist, and strategist who has been called "the unknown hero" and "the invisible man" of the civil rights movement. On-demand access to the film begins on February 22 at 10am for those unable to join the Trinity Watch Party. For more information, email Jennifer Chinn, Senior Program Manager, Youth & Community Engagement, at jchinn@trinitywallstreet.org.