Bil Browning

MLK: Bayard Rustin's Partner Speaks

Filed By Bil Browning | January 17, 2011 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Living
Tags: Bayard Rustin, Martin Luther King Jr., MLK, Walter Naegle

Today's must-read Martin Luther King Day article is penned by none other than Bayard Rustin's partner, Walter Naegle. Rustin was the openly gay adviser to Martin Luther King Jr who organized the bayard-rustin-with-martin-luther-king-jr-in-1956-d1.jpg1963 March on Washington.

Nine days after the shocking gun violence in Tucson, our nation pauses to reflect on the life of a leader in the African-American struggle for civil rights, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. An apostle of nonviolence, Dr. King lived under the constant threat of violence from those who sought to keep America from expanding its commitment to equal opportunity and justice. While not a politician, he shared with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords a commitment to educating people about the democratic process, whether through a table at a shopping mall, the ballot box or through nonviolent direct action in the streets.

Veterans of the struggle served as counselors to the younger Dr. King, among them my late partner Bayard Rustin. An activist since his teenage years, Bayard was pivotal in helping to translate nonviolent philosophy into concrete direct action -- the marches, sit-ins, and boycotts that forced this country to abolish racial segregation laws.
Bayard's extraordinary intelligence and abilities enabled him to overcome the racism and homophobia so prevalent during his lifetime, and despite setbacks he never abandoned his faith in the possibilities for human redemption and growth... That faith in the power of one person to be an agent of change was recalled in President Obama's remarks in Tucson when he said, "We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another, that's entirely up to us."

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This is great. But to say that MLK was not a politician is naive.

Thanks for sharing. I'll be researching more about Baynard Rustin