Rustin Holds Ceremony, Unveils Plaque Honoring Civil Rights Activist

Rustin Holds Ceremony, Unveils Plaque Honoring Civil Rights Activist

Bayard Rustin Plaque

Bayard Rustin High School recently held a special ceremony and unveiled a new plaque that honors the life and legacy of civil rights activist and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Bayard Rustin, after whom the school is named.

Students, teachers, staff, and community members attended the event, which was held in the school’s main lobby on December 9. The ceremony began with the Concert Choir’s performance of the alma mater, and was followed by welcoming remarks provided by principal Mike Marano.

Student leaders from the Black Student Union, Gay Straight Alliance, and Student Council spoke next, describing what Bayard Rustin means to them while sharing courageous personal stories with those in attendance. The school’s librarian, Shirley LeClerc, presented a rare audio recording of Bayard Rustin singing, which was followed by a performance of Swing Low Sweet Chariot by the Rustin Concert Choir. Superintendent Jim Scanlon provided closing remarks and led the unveiling of the plaque to those in attendance.

“I hope that the speakers’ messages of inspiration as well as the new plaque helps to spread awareness of Bayard Rustin and the vital importance that all citizens take action to address social injustice whenever and wherever it is encountered,” said Chris Reyna, a social studies teacher at the high School who coordinated the event.

The following message is engraved on the plaque, which is prominently located in the school’s main lobby:

“Bayard Rustin was an unyielding activist for civil rights, dignity, and equality for all. As an openly gay African American, Mr. Rustin stood at the intersection of several of the fights for equal rights. An advisor to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he promoted nonviolent resistance, participated in in one of the first Freedom Rides, organized the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and fought tirelessly for marginalized communities at home and abroad. Mr. Rustin was posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama on November 20, 2013, in recognition of his lifelong commitment to human rights.”

Click here to read more about Bayard Rustin High School being named after Bayard Rustin. 

For more information, please contact Ms. Tracey Dukert, Digital Communications Coordinator, West Chester Area School District at 484-266-1170 or