Democracy Now!, 8/12/13
The White House has announced it will posthumously award the highest civilian award in the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to the trailblazing civil rights activist Bayard Rustin. Obama will honor Rustin and 15 others, including President Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and baseball great Ernie Banks, at the White House later this year. Rustin was a key adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. and introduced him to Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings on nonviolence. Rustin helped King start the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957. Six years later, he was the chief organizer of the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, rallying hundreds of thousands of people for economic justice, full employment, voting rights and equal opportunity. “Rustin was one of the most important social justice activists in the U.S. in the 20th century,” says John D’Emilio, author of “Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin.” “Rustin pioneered the use of Gandhian nonviolence as a way of calling attention to segregation and other forms of racism in the United States.” We also speak to former NAACP chair Julian Bond and Rustin’s partner, Walter Naegle.
read the full transcript at Democracy Now!
…AMY GOODMAN: Early in his life, Bayard Rustin challenged segregation, as you talked about, and racism; in high school, arrested for refusing to sit in a West Chester movie theater segregated balcony. In this clip from the film Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin, which just aired last night on LIW’s World Channel, Rustin recollects how he responded to racism.
BAYARD RUSTIN: I once went into the little restaurant next to the Warner Theatre, and—can you believe it?—there was absolute consternation. That was the first occasion in which I knew West Chester had three police cars. They surrounded the place as if we were going to destroy motherhood. I purposely got arrested, and then I made an appeal that all the black people and white people who were decent-minded should give 10 cents to get me out of jail. And I got out, because they took up a collection….