University Archives


A. Clayton Powell introduces Bayard Rustin, February 20, 1956

1p., 8" x 11.5", February 20, 1956. Signed "Adam Clayton Powell, Jr." in blue ink. Typed on official House of Representatives letterhead and addressed to an unknown recipient. A letter of introduction for Bayard Rustin, who Powell commends for "his honesty, intelligent and judgement, both political and tactical. The quality of his judgement is indicated by the fact that the Marshall Field Foundation sent him to work in the aftermath of the Cicero riot. He has demonstrated his courage and dedication by being arrested on a number of occasions in the struggle for racial justice. As the result of his efforts to break down discrimination in interstate travel, he served a sentence on the North Carolina chain gang."

Rustin had worked with race relations in the United States for numerous years, as well as in India and Africa. Powell also makes a point to assert the fact that Rustin "is definitely not a communist." Rustin would go on to be a leader in multiple social justice movements, including civil rights, socialism, and gay rights. He and Powell later had a falling out when, in 1960, Powell threatened to leak a fake story that implied a sexual relationship between King and Rustin if they didn't cancel a boycott outside the Democratic National Convention.

Included with this letter is a magazine clipping, which includes photographs and quotes of Rev. Powell and King.

Usual flattened mail folds. Uneven toning along the left vertical edge. Minor chipping and small tears at the upper left corner. At the upper left reads "file" written in pencil.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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