Al LetsonWinona State University will host Al Letson in “Bayard Rustin: The Untold Story of a Civil and Gay Rights Pioneer” in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, in East Hall, Kryzsko Commons.

Bayard Rustin was a strategist and activist in the struggle for human rights and economic justice. A contemporary of King, Rustin had many labels, including black, gay and Quaker. He is best remembered as the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, one of the largest nonviolent protests ever held in the United States. He counseled King on the use of non-violent resistance, and helped mold King into an international symbol of peace and nonviolence.

Through his presentation, Letson will take the audience to a specific time in American history that shapes the way in which we live now.

Letson is a nationally recognized and critically acclaimed playwright and performer. Early in his career, he established himself as a heavyweight in the Poetry Slam Movement, which reaped artistic credibility and renown. By examining difficult topics and influential historical themes, Letson brings people together to focus on our common humanity.

Letson will host a poetry session at 3:30 p.m. Jan. 21 in the Student Activity Center in Kryzsko Commons.

Letson will also perform “Bayard Rustin: The Untold Story of a Civil and Gay Rights Pioneer” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 22, at the Peace United Church of Christ in Rochester, Minn.

All events are free and open to the public.

Sponsors for the events are: the Inclusion and Diversity Office, Southeast Technical College student affairs, WSU-Rochester, WSU Diversity Clubs and Organizations, KEAP Diversity Resource Center, and the Peace United Church of Christ in Rochester.

For more information, contact Alexander Hines, Director of Inclusion and Diversity, at