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Walter Naegle was the partner of the American Civil Rights leader Bayard Rustin and is executive director of the Bayard Rustin Fund,]which commemorates Rustin's life, values, and legacy. Naegle’s commitment to civil rights began long before he met Rustin.  During high school in the 1960s, he became interested in the African American struggle for civil rights and social justice, particularly with its commitment to nonviolence as the means to bring about democratic change. He met Bayard Rustin in April 1977.  They were on the same corner waiting for the light to change. After a few months, the two became steady partners. He moved in with Rustin who resided in the Mutual Redevelopment Houses (Penn South). Because same sex marriage was illegal at the time, Rustin legally adopted Naegle in 1982. The two were together for 10 years until Rustin's death in 1987. On November 20, 2013, Naegle accepted the Medal of Freedom from President Obama in honor of Rustin's work of 1963 March on Washington He and Sally Ride's partner were the first LGBT partners to accept the award for their late partners. Naegle has spoken truth to power his entire life- modeling non-violence as a way of life, advocating for prisoners & GI rights and co-authoring many important books about the Civil Rights struggle.

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