Bayard Rustin, who was recently named a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, was honored at the 5th Annual National Reform Sex Offender Laws conference in Los Angeles. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor.
President Barack Obama posthumously named Rustin as a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom on August 8, 2013. The medal is to be presented to Rustin and to 15 other individuals – including Oprah Winfrey and former President Bill Clinton — who have made meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
The citation for Rustin’s award states:
Bayard Rustin was an unyielding activist for civil rights, dignity, and equality for all. An advisor to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he promoted nonviolent resistance, participated 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. As an openly gay African American, Mr. Rustin stood at the intersection of several of the fights for equal rights.
“We honored Bayard Rustin for the courage he demonstrated as a civil rights leader, a gay African American and a registered sex offender,” stated Janice Bellucci, President, California Reform Sex Offender Laws. “It is appropriate that we did so in Los Angeles county where sex offender registries began and where Rustin was arrested and jailed in 1953.”
Rustin was honored at the banquet held on August 30 during the national RSOL conference held at the LAX Westin Hotel. The focus of the conference was the reform of existing sex offender laws throughout the nation that deny the civil rights of more than 750,000 registered sex offenders and members of their families.
“The civil rights activism demonstrated by Bayard Rustin continues today,” stated Brenda Jones, Executive Director, National Reform Sex Offender Laws. “We are fighting against laws which punish individuals and often result in unemployment, homelessness and vigilante violence, even death.”
The RSOL conference include individual speakers and panels of experts on topics such as residency restrictions, presence restrictions and the retroactive application of laws to individuals convicted 50 years or more ago. There are more than 100,000 registered sex offenders in the state of California, including more than 11,000 in Los Angeles County.[hana-flv-player video=”https://all4consolaws.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Rustin-Presidential-Medal_001.flv” width=”640″ description=”” player=”3″ autoload=”true” autoplay=”false” loop=”false” autorewind=”true” /]
Video Source: Dr. Marshall Burns of SOLResearch