Bayard Rustin on MLK, 1969

“April 4, 1969 will mark the first anniversary of the slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I can think of no better way to observe that Good Friday than to reflect on the meaning of Dr. King’s life and his death, and to rededicate ourselves to the continuation of his work. Dr. King’s philosophy and life’s work were guided by his adherence to the three great principles of nonviolence, democracy, and integration. These principles gave him spiritual courage as well as political direction in the battles of Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma and throughout the struggle to integrate public accommodations and abolish Jim Crow. And they also led him to the great insight which was symbolized by the new direction he was moving in at the time of his death. For we must never forget that Dr. King died in a labor struggle. He died in the midst of an effort to organize the Memphis sanitation workers and to win for them union recognition and collective bargaining rights.”

Bayard Rustin, 1969.

(Born in West Chester on March 17, 1912, Rustin became one of King’s closest associates and was chief planner of the famed “I have a Dream” march, more formally March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Concience of the Nation

by dianeravitch, 1/16/17

I was never fortunate enough to meet Dr. King, but I was a member of the vast crowd that stood on the Mall when he spoke to the March on Washington on August 28, 1963. I became a good friend of his close aide Bayard Rustin, who like Dr. King, was eloquent and passionate about justice.

Dr. King was frequently criticized by friends and foes. The foes thought he was a dangerous agitator who was encouraging rebellion against the social order, which he was. Moderates said he was pushing too hard, too fast, for too much, at the wrong time and the wrong place. Some who should have been his friends said he wasn’t sufficiently radical; they said he was too cerebral, too willing to compromise, out of touch with the masses that were ready to engage in violence. Dr. King believed in nonviolence as a principle, not as a strategy. He believed in justice and equality as principles, not as temporary goals. Some of his erstwhile allies turned to Malcolm X, who did not share Dr. King’s commitment to nonviolence.

On this day set aside to remember Dr. King, read or watch one of his speeches. Think about the courage it required to stand up for the oppressed, to face death every day, and to do so in a spirit of love….

Read more and see links to many MLK speeches at dianeravitch. Note praise of West Chester Native Bayard Rustin above.