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On February 17, 1944, a court found Rustin guilty of resisting the draft and sentenced him to three years (most COs received one year and a day) in the federal prison in Ashland, Kentucky, a segregated prison in a segregated state. On one visit to white COs, Rustin was beaten by a white prisoner who only stopped when he realized that neither Rustin nor the other COs were fighting back. Rustin’s protests against racial segregation, and his open homosexuality, were a source of growing tension. So in August 1945, he was transferred to the higher-security penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, where he served out the remainder of his time. In Lewisburg, Rustin was kept away from the non-pacifist inmates to avoid infecting them with “liberal” ideas.
As declared pacifists who refused induction into the military, Bayard Rustin, George Houser, and other members of FOR and CORE were convicted of violating the Selective Service Act. From 1944 to 1946, Rustin was imprisoned in Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary, where he organized protests against segregated dining facilities. During his incarceration, he also organized FOR’s Free India Committee. After his release from prison, he was frequently arrested for protesting against British colonial rule, in both India and Africa.
“By some prison officials we were considered the worst scum of the earth,” Rustin wrote after his release in June 1946, “because we had refused to fight for our country, and because we were college-educated. We used to say that the difference between us and other prisoners was the difference between fasting and starving. We were there by virtue of a commitment we had made to a moral position; and that gave us a psychological attitude the average prisoner did not have….. We had the feeling of being morally important; and that made us respond to prison conditions without fear, with considerable sensitivity to human rights… It was by going to jail that we called the people’s attention to the horrors of war.”
Join us starting Thur, Jan 27th for our monthly online book club. Dr. Fernando Ona, the inaugural recipient of the Walter Wink & June Keener Wink Fellowship, will lead the group through Walter Wink’s “The Powers That Be.” Please register here: #bookclub https://t.co/Azg2t6Kf2hRead More
Join us at 4pm EST on January 18th for our "Brothers in the Beloved Community" book talk with @BishopMarc Register today here: Don't forget to like and share this post, theres still plenty of time to grab your seat! @ParallaxPress @EPFNational #forusa https://t.co/zSzzuFy5CORead More
As we prepare to celebrate Dr. King & #MLKDay, FOR is proud to share a new CURRICULUM & STUDY GUIDE for our 1957 comic book, "Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story" - to recall, reexamine & connect current struggles to #MontgomeryBusBoycott + more. https://t.co/Z5SnN3px0fRead More
RT @nytimes: The writer and poet Maya Angelou has become the first Black woman to be featured on a quarter. The coins began shipping this w…Read More
RT @Dr_Maha_Hilal: Today is the 20th anniversary of the opening of #GuantanamoBay prison, one of the oldest, most infamous relics of the #W…Read More
RT @WitnessTorture: From the very beginning, of the 780 people at Guantanamo, only a handful of those people have been convicted of terrori…Read More
Fellowship of Reconciliation USA (FOR-USA) is the largest interfaith peace fellowship leading the charge on today’s most pressing human and civil rights issues through advocacy, activism, and educational programs.