Inside LADA

February 5, 2020: District Attorney Jackie Lacey Praises Pardon for Civil Rights Leader


District Attorney Jackie Lacey thanked Governor Gavin Newsom today (Feb. 5) for posthumously pardoning American civil rights pioneer Bayard Rustin.

“Mr. Bayard Rustin was one of the most significant civil rights leaders of our time, whose great accomplishments, unfortunately, were overshadowed by a 1953 conviction in Los Angeles County for activities between consenting adults that should never have been criminalized in the first place,” District Attorney Lacey said.

“I was pleased to join with the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus and the California Legislative Black Caucus in asking Governor Newsom to redress an ugly chapter in our state’s history and ensure this dedicated and brave civil rights leader is given his rightful place in the annals of our great nation,” District Attorney Lacey continued.

Mr. Rustin was a confidant of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., serving as a key organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and helping to establish the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He was honored posthumously by President Barack Obama with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.

“I believe this pardon will send an important message that we in California reject the government’s oppression of any people, no  matter how long ago, and that we are committed to learning from and correcting grievances from a shameful past as well as preserving and protecting the rights and dignity of all people,” District Attorney Lacey said.

Read District Attorney Jackie Lacey's letter to Governor Gavin Newsom