Friday, January 18, 2013

A forgotten Civil Rights hero

Originally published on RMNBlog

BrIf you've never heard of Bayard Rustin you are not alone. But you should know him. Bayard Rustin is perhaps the most significant organizer for social justice and civil rights in American history. He was the man behind Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, teaching King everything he knew about non-violent resistance, civil disobedience, and organizing a movement. Certainly The Movement would not have succeeded like it did without MLK's brilliance, but King would be no more than a prophetic preacher if Bayard Rustin hadn't introduced him to the ideas of Gandhi and given King the strategy to change the world through peace.
So if Bayard Rustin is so important, why has history forgotten him? Why isn't he celebrated? Why was he hidden by The Movement itself?
Bayrad Rustin was gay.

When those opposed to The Movement learned of Bayard Rustin's sexuality, they sought to use it  King_rustinagainst the entire fight for civil rights-- even from the floor of congress. As result, Bayard Rustin worked from the background, hidden from public eye and left out of the history books.There is no justifying the horrible injustice that has been done to Bayard Rustin. However, we can't change what our heroes of the Civil Rights Era choice to do to protect a vulnerable movement. What we can do is reclaim his name, sacrifice, hard work, and character today.

That is why today, I am introducing a petition to President Barack Obama to award Bayard Rustin posthumously with The Presidential Medal of Freedom. We need 100,000 signatures by February 17th, 2013. Together we can help honor a man who gave his entire for the Civil Rights Movement. He deserves to at least stand behind, if not next to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Click the picture below to sign the petition and share this with your friends. Below is a video and other links to more information about Bayard Rustin's life of service.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Letter from an Albany Jail

Originally published on RMNBlog

You have probably read his Letter from a Brimingham Jail, but have you read Dr. King's letter from a cell in Albany, GA? In it King makes the argument that when "the non-violent resistor refuses to cooperate with a law that is out of harmony with the laws of God and the laws of morality, he must break the law-- but in doing so, practices civil disobedience and accepts the penalty, thereby practicing moral obedience and transforms the jail into a haven of liberty and freedom."
Over Labor Day weekend Reconciling Ministries Network will be holding its convocation in D.C. themed "ChurchQuake: Embracing Freedom". There is a story in the Bible of Paul and Silas locked up in a jail cell for their civil disobedience. And when they began to sing songs, the earth shook and their chains were released.
I have to wonder if Dr. King had that story in mind when he transformed a jail in Albany into a haven of liberty and freedom.

Here is the letter, in Dr. King's own typing (from the King Center Archive):

- by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. -