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Bayard Rustin was an American leader in social movements for civil rights, socialism, nonviolence, and gay rights. In the pacifist groups Fellowship of Reconciliation and the War Resisters League, Rustin practiced nonviolence.
He was a leading activist of the early Civil Rights Movement, helping to initiate a 1947 Freedom Ride to challenge, with civil disobedience, the racial segregation issue related to interstate busing. He recognized Martin Luther King, Jr.'s leadership, and helped to organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to strengthen King's leadership. Rustin promoted the philosophy of nonviolence and the practices of nonviolent resistance, which he had observed while working with Mahatma Gandhi's movement in India, and helped teach Martin Luther King, Jr. about nonviolence.