An Inspiration

Dr. King and Bayard Rustin
Dr. King and Bayard Rustin
Rustin the musician
Rustin the musician

     Yesterday, I saw a film, “Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin.”

     He is one of my heroes. I had read a lot about him, and by him, but until yesterday I had not seen much of him.

     A leader in many justice causes, a believer in, and practitioner of, nonviolent protest as the surest means to create social change–he taught Dr. King much of what Dr. King then taught the rest of us–Rustin was also a Black gay man. He had style, he sang beautifully, he spoke with precision.

     I am grateful that GLSEN (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network) Richmond showed the film at the Gay Community Center of Richmnd. I hope that over time more and more of young queer people, and older folks like me, can see this film.

     Rustin was an idealist. He was not afraid to pay, and pay dearly, to follow his conscience. For example, as a pacifist, he refused to fight in World War II. He was imprisoned for that. And in the late 1940s he did what Rosa Parks did in 1955 and served time on a chain gang for it.

     But also he was a realist. He wanted to change things. He knew that big change is rare, but small changes can add up.

     If you want to change things, strategic thinking is required at every moment–as is passion for justice, and commitment to defeat injustice.

     Today, I remember Dr. King, and I remember Bayard Rustin. Together, they changed things.

     We can do the same. Together.