I’ve been reading a great deal about Bayard Rustin this week. He was amazing to me!
I’m ashamed to admit that I was an adult when I first found out about him. As much as I tried to study black history on my own in high school, I do not recall reading about him.
I watched Eyes on the Prize a dozen times after my high school history teacher made me a copy of his VHS tape of it, but I don’t recall watching anything about Rustin.
(I was in love with Malcolm X and the Black Panther Party, so a pacifist might not have caught my eye at that time.)
Today, I am impressed by at least 3 things about Rustin:
1. He was an organizer long before he organized the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. He started organizing against Jim Crow laws when he was in high school!
2. His Quaker faith. He believed in the values of his religion and tried to live them.
3. His unwillingness to be ashamed about who he loved. This individuality is amazing to me in a society that was nearly completely against this. How do you stand up when everyone is sitting down? You just do! It is a matter of conviction.
A number of children’s books have been written about him so our children do not have to stumble upon his story during adulthood like I did. Rustin’s story might surely encourage our youth.