overview

Many New York City public schools are named in honor of prominent figures in American and world history.

Bayard Rustin Educational Complex, in Manhattan, inadvertently honors an LGBT individual.

Header Photo
Credit: New York Daily News.

History

Many New York City public schools are named in honor of prominent figures in American and world history. The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project compiled a list of the 25 public schools named after gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals, although only one — Harvey Milk High School — intentionally honors an LGBT individual. This list includes Bayard Rustin Educational Complex, in Manhattan.

Raised as a Quaker, Bayard Rustin (1912-1987) was an openly gay Black activist and devout pacifist who, over the course of five decades, had an immeasurable impact on the civil rights movement in the United States and social justice efforts abroad. One of his many roles was as chief advisor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1950s and early 1960s, to whom he taught Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violent resistance. However, despite working tirelessly for the civil rights cause, Rustin was often forced to give up leadership roles and recognition because of prejudice towards his homosexuality. Rustin served as the lead organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which is now largely remembered for Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Sites on this website associated with Rustin include his Penn South residence in Chelsea and his residence on Mott Street in downtown Manhattan, and the National Headquarters for the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, in Harlem.

This building was constructed as the Textile High School. It was renamed a number of times, including in 1988 as the Bayard Rustin High School for the Humanities, following Rustin’s death.

Building Information

  • Architect or Builder: Walter C. Martin
  • Year Built: 1929-30

Sources

  1. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., “Who Designed the March on Washington,” The Root, August 19, 2013, bit.ly/2eEo0oF.

  2. Mark Meinke and Kathleen LaFrank, “Bayard Rustin Residence,” National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form (Waterford, NY: New York State Historic Preservation Office, March 8, 2016).

  3. Michael G. Long, I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin’s Life in Letters (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2012).

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25 Sites

LGBT-Named Public Schools

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