A.J. Muste Becomes Executive Director of FOR-USA

From 1940 to 1953, A.J. Muste was the Executive Director of  FOR-USA, where he did anti-war work, advocated nonviolence within the Protestant ecumenical movement, and helped mentor a number of the future leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, including Bayard Rustin. Rustin, a close advisor of Martin Luther King Jr., later claimed that he never made a difficult decision without talking about it first with Muste. 1940 to 1953 was, in its own way, as turbulent as the 1930s. It covered the war years, the beginning of the Cold War, and the McCarthy period. Under Muste’s leadership, FOR-USA stimulated the organization of the Congress on Racial Equality, the first of the militant civil rights groups. At the age of 68 Muste “retired.” He was considered by those who worked with him to have one of the sharpest political minds in America. Muste’s associates learned from him directly – from discussions, the dialogues, and actions which marked their relationships with him. He wrote several books, but he communicated – and influenced – best on a personal level.

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