Posted by: wcdem2 | July 23, 2013

Bayard Rustin’s Legacy: West Chester’s Civil Rights Hero

BY J. F. PIRRO, Main Line Today, 7/19/13

An integral part of the Civil Rights Movement and the march on Washington, Bayard Rustin and his influence is remembered by West Chester’s Bill Scott.

“Martin Luther King may have told us about his dream, but Bayard Rustin built the platform on which King stood.”

From an early age, Bill Scott was “hooked on Kennedy,” even attending JFK’s inauguration on his own at 15. Sympathetic with the Civil Rights Movement, the Conestoga High School graduate and Rutgers University student set out from home on Aug. 28, 1963, on a Presbyterian Interracial Council bus headed to the March on Washington.

Once Scott’s bus crossed the Maryland line, it joined a sea of others. “Going down, it was a mixed crowd, but mostly what we would’ve called colored folks or Negroes. We didn’t have the word black then,” recalls Scott, a onetime West Chester borough councilman who is now 68. “At one pit stop, someone said, ‘What if they don’t let us in?’ Another said, ‘Not today.’ There was no belligerence—just confidence. Everyone was cheerful, upbeat and excited. They understood that this was a significant thing.”…

As soon as he got there, Scott left his bus group and “weaseled” his way up front. He was on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for King’s speech and other festivities, including performances by Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. The 18-year-old college sophomore used his 35 mm Zeiss Ikon camera (a gift to his father after 35 years of service at Gulf Oil) to shoot 24 high-quality pictures. “I’m not saying that I could touch King, but I was within 15 feet,” he says. “When he spoke about having his dream, I was right there.”

After King spoke, Scott went to shake his hand, but the two sergeants at arms (on either side of King in every image from that day) made it clear that no one was to touch King. “[Bayard] Rustin was there, and he was getting a lot of hype,” says Scott. “I remember my dad telling me that he was from West Chester, just down the road from us. He was jumping all around. He was all over the place. He was palpably in charge. Martin Luther King may have told us about his dream, but Bayard Rustin built the platform on which King stood.”….

see the whole article and photos at Main Line Today. Photo by Bill Scott, 8/28/63:

Rustin by Scott 8-28-63

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