Voted a Best Book of 2019 by School Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews!
A biography for younger readers about one of the most influential activists of our time, who was an early advocate for African Americans and for gay rights.
"Bayard had an unshakable optimism, nerves of steel, and, most importantly, a faith that if the cause is just and people are organized, nothing can stand in our way."—President Barack Obama
"Bayard Rustin was one of the great organizers and activists of the Civil Rights Movement. Without his skill and vision, the historic impact of the March on Washington might not have been possible. I am glad this biography will make young people aware of his life and his incredible contribution to American history.—Congressman John Lewis
"'We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers,' declared Bayard Rustin in the late 1940s. A proponent of nonviolent resistance and a stalwart figure in the civil rights movement, Rustin organized a profound and peaceful milestone in American history—the 1963 March on Washington. . . . Troublemaker for Justice describes not only how Rustin orchestrated the March on Washington in two months but also how he stood up for his Quaker principles throughout his life. The three authors, Jacqueline Houtman, Walter Naegle and Michael G. Long, show the difficulties Rustin faced as a gay black man in 20th-century America, and that he shouldered them with strength, intelligence, and a quest for peace and justice."—Abby Nolan, The Washington Post
"An excellent biography that belongs in every young adult library. Readers will find Rustin’s story captivating; his story could encourage young people to fight for change."—Michelle Kornberger, Library Journal,*Starred Review
"In today's political landscape, this volume is a lesson in the courage to live according to one's truth and the dedication it takes to create a better world."—Kirkus Reviews, *Starred Review
"A long-overdue introduction to a fascinating, influential change maker."—Publishers Weekly, *Starred Review
"This biography is an indispensable addition to the literature of both civil and gay rights."—Michael Cart, Booklist, *Starred review
Bayard Rustin was a major figure in the Civil Rights movement. He was arrested on a bus 13 years before Rosa Parks and he participated in integrated bus rides throughout the South 14 years before the Freedom Riders. He was a mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., teaching him the techniques and philosophy of Gandhian nonviolent direct action. He organized the March on Washington in 1963, one of the most impactful mobilizations in American history.
Despite these contributions, few Americans recognize his name, and he is absent from most history books, in large part because he was gay. This biography traces Rustin’s life, from his childhood and his first arrest in high school for sitting in the “whites only” section of a theater, through a lifetime of nonviolent activism.
"Authors Jacqueline Houtman, Walter Naegle, and Michael G. Long provide middle and high school students with a biography of Rustin that illustrates how the personal is political. Young readers will take away valuable lessons about identity, civics, and 20th-century history."—Rethinking Schools
Teachers: Discussion Guide Available! Explanation of Common Core Instructional Standards Available! Reach out to the publisher at Stacey [@] citylights.com
Praise for Troublemaker for Justice:
"In Troublemaker for Justice children and teens can finally discover the story of the man who possibly was the most influential person in the struggle for Civil Rights—Bayard Rustin."—Rob Sanders, author of Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag
"Troublemaker for Justice is a book that belongs in every middle and high school library biography section and students researching the Civil Rights Movement should always be presented with materials that acknowledge his contributions. Bayard Rustin dedicated his life to the pursuit of equality and his is a name that should stand out in United States history."—Leah Cole, Teaching Social Justice with Children's Books
"The first YA book from San Francisco publisher City Lights, Troublemaker is an excellent introduction to the gay black Quaker called 'Mr. March-on-Washington himself' by friends and undercut by opponents for his sexual orientation."—Dave Wheeler, Shelf Awareness
"Written with verve and an unerring eye for the important details, as well as the larger picture, Troublemaker for Justice is a nuanced, vital, and compelling portrait of civil rights leader Bayard Rustin. It is beautifully imagined and positioned perfectly in a thrilling sweep of U.S. history."—Michael Bronski, author of A Queer History of the United States
"Troublemaker for Justice will thrill and inspire young readers—and their parents. Bayard Rustin was a crucial figure in the Civil Rights movement, and everyone should know his story, but even more importantly, we need his principles and his tactics now more than ever. This is one history book that could help you change the future." —Charlie Jane Anders, author of The City in the Middle of the Night
"Troublemaker for Justice is an incredible book! It is hard to believe that so much tumultuous history is contained in 154 pages. What emerges is the intense importance of seeing Bayard and other Civil Rights Leaders not just as historical figures, but as the brave people they were who made sacrifices for the betterment of society. Their stories vehemently ask us to not let their work towards creating a less violent world be in vain.”—Connie Griffin, Children's Book Specialist, Bookworks, Albuquerque, NM
“Bayard Rustin did not spend his life trying to fit in. Instead, Bayard’s fascinating life story is the saga of one man’s struggle to make the world fit his vision of justice.” — Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton
“Packed full of sidebars with additional context—including regarding the Quakers’ views of civil rights, the nonviolent philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, and Jim Crow laws—the book also lists additional resources, includes a timeline of Rustin’s life, and forwards discussion questions. . . . Troublemaker for Justice is a helpful primer for young readers about a civil rights leader who’s worth learning more about.”—Jeff Fleischer, Foreword Magazine
"Troublemaker for Justice illuminates readers on the life and legacy of Bayard Rustin. A notable civil rights leader, Rustin is often cast into the historical shadows of the civil rights movement in part because of his sexuality, political engagement with the communist party during the Cold War, and being a conscientious objector to World War II. Houtman, Naegle, and Long provide an in-depth history of Bayard Rustin's life, from his early childhood to his death in 1987. Inspired by his Quaker upbringing and the nonviolent direct organizing tactics of Mohandas Gandhi (Mahatma Gandhi), Rustin strongly believed in the value of community organizing and remained true to his values of equality, peace, and civil disobedience. . . .Troublemaker for Justice is a great resource for high schoolers and middle schoolers with an advanced reading level to learn about activism, nonviolent organizing, the civil rights movement, and LGBTQ+ changemakers. By providing an in-depth narrative of an often overlooked historical figure, this book connects the dots between the less-told Journey for Reconciliation with the widely-known Freedom Riders Movement. This book contains great explanations of complicated terms/movements/ideologies, numerous graphics, and some basic discussion questions to use in classroom teaching."—Conner Suddick, "Social Justice Books:" A Teaching for Change Project
"What is most astounding about Bayard Rustin is that for all his accomplishments and successes, he is unknown to many. Despite the fact that he worked directly with Martin Luther King Jr. and organized The March on Washington, again, he continues to be unknown. Why is that? Because Bayard Rustin was gay. History wrote him out of many important events because of the prejudice and discrimination towards gays and lesbians during that time. Despite that, Bayard continued onward; not only helping those in the United States but also broadening his reach to other countries. What is clear throughout this book is an important message: everybody has the right to be treated fairly. Everybody has the right to be treated with respect. It is important to stand up to prejudice and discrimination no matter the circumstances. Although Bayard Rustin died in 1987, his messages still strongly resonate today."—Marisa Marion, Dutile Elementary School, Billerica MA, for "Youth Services Book Review"
"The best part of this biographic profile is the skillful balance Houtman, Naegle, and Long achieve in the writing. They deftly explore rich details of Rustin's early years and beyond. Raised by his Quaker-educated grandma, Julia, he was inspired to relieve suffering, to resolve injustice, and to speak out rather then stand by in the face of war and wickedness. From childhood and on throughout his life, he was called on to demonstrate, time and again, that his actions would speak louder than words."—Sandy Brehl, "An Open Book"