Tag Archives: A. Philip Randolph

Bayard Rustin: In The Shadows Of Civil Rights

A half a century ago, the March on Washington became the crowning achievement of the Civil Rights Movement. Albeit, resulting in no appreciable results. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is credited with what little success it did produce. However, I am very proud and honored to have live long enough to see the first man of color to receive such distinction on the Washington Mall and to have a president of color unveil the monument to this great man.

Dr. King now has reached his place of immortality and as marvelous as this is, I wondered if anyone knows the man whose shoulders he stood, with regard to that famous march. We know that A. Phillip Randolph was the chief architect, but there was one person, in particular, that was the chief organizer of the March on Washington, who some have called the man behind the dream. I thought it would be fitting to give props to the man responsible for making the historic March on Washington a reality – Bayard Rustin. He was one of the most important leaders of the civil rights movement from the advent of its modern period in the 1950s until well into the 1980s.

Although his name is seldom mentioned or receives comparatively little press or media attention while others’ were usually much more readily associated with the movement. Mr. Rustin’s role was a behind-the-scenes role that, for all its importance, never garnered him the public acclaim he deserved. Rustin’s homosexuality and early communist affiliation probably meant that the importance of his contribution to the civil rights and peace movements would never be acknowledged.

Rustin was a gifted and successful student in the schools of West Chester, both academically and on his high school track and football teams. It was during this period of his life that Bayard began to demonstrate his gift for singing with a beautiful tenor voice. He attended Wilberforce University and Cheyney State Teachers College. In 1937, he moved to New York City, where he was to live the rest of his life.

It was at this time that Rustin began to organize for the Young Communist League of City College. The communists’ progressive stance on the issue of racial injustice appealed to him. He broke with the Young Communist League and soon found himself seeking out A. Philip Randolph, who headed the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and at that time the leading articulator of the equal rights at the time.

Rustin soon headed the youth wing of a march on Washington that Randolph envisioned. Randolph called off the demonstration when President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order No. 8802, forbidding racial discrimination in the employment of workers in defense industries. Randolph’s calling off of the projected march caused a temporary breach between him and Bayard Rustin, and Rustin transferred his organizing efforts to the peace movement, first in the Fellowship of Reconciliation and later in the American Friends Service Committee, the Socialist Party, and the War Resisters League.

In 1944, Rustin was found guilty of violating the Selective Service Act and was sentenced to three years in a federal prison. In March 1944, Rustin was sent to the federal penitentiary in Ashland, Kentucky. He then set about to resist the pervasive segregation, then the norm in prisons in the United States, although faced with vicious racism from some of the prison guards and white prisoners, Rustin faced frequent cruelty with courage and completely nonviolent resistance.

On release from prison, Rustin got involved again with the Fellowship of Reconciliation, which staged a journey of reconciliation through four Southern and border states in 1947 to test the application of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that discrimination in seating in interstate transportation was illegal. Rustin’s resistance to North Carolina’s Jim Crow law against integration in transportation earned him twenty-eight days hard labor on a chain gang, where he met with the usual racist taunts and tortures.

Between 1947 and 1952, Rustin traveled first to India and then to Africa under the sponsorship of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, exploring the nonviolent dimensions of the Indian and Ghanaian independence movements. In 1953, Rustin was arrested for public indecency in Pasadena, California, while lecturing under the auspices of the American Association of University Women. It was the first time that Rustin’s homosexuality had come to the public’s attention, and at that time, homosexual behavior in all states was a criminal offense.

In 1956 Rustin was approached by Lillian Smith, the celebrated Southern novelist who authored Strange Fruit, to provide Dr. Martin Luther King with some practical advice on how to apply Gandhian principles of nonviolence to the boycott of public transportation then taking shape in Montgomery, Alabama. Rustin spent time in Montgomery and Birmingham advising King, who had not yet completely embraced principles of nonviolence in his struggle. By 1957, Rustin was busy playing a large role in the birth of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and in the Prayer Pilgrimage to Washington that took place on May 17, 1957, to urge A. Philip Randolph to enforce the Supreme Court’s 1954 ruling that the nation’s schools be desegregated.

Arguably the high point of Bayard Rustin’s political career was the A. Philip Randolph for Jobs and Freedom, which took place on August 28, 1963, the place of Dr. Martin Luther King’s stirring “I Have a Dream” speech. Rustin was by all accounts the March’s chief architect. To devise a march of at least one-quarter of a million participants and to coordinate the various sometimes fractious civil rights organizations that played a part in it was a herculean feat of mobilization.

By 1965 Rustin had come to believe that the period for militant street action had come to an end; the legal foundation for segregation had been irrevocably shattered. Rustin’s steadfast opposition to identity politics also came under criticism by exponents of the developing Black Power movement. His critical stance toward affirmative action programs and black studies departments in American universities were not a popular viewpoint among many of his fellow Afro-Americans, and as at various other times of his life, Rustin found himself, to a certain extent, isolated.

Although Bayard Rustin lived in the shadow of more charismatic civil rights leaders, he can lay real claim to have been an indispensable unsung force behind the movement toward equality for America’s black citizens, and more largely for the rights of humans around the globe, in the twentieth century. Throughout his life his personal philosophy, incorporating beliefs that were of central importance to him: that there is that of God in every person, that all are entitled to a decent life, and that a life of service to others is the way to happiness and true fulfillment. So you see all of us stand on the shoulders of someone be it great or not; the Dream will never die. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

“Just a Season”


Happy Birthday Dr. Martin Luther King

7

On January 15, 1929, the world welcomed a male Negro child who would become the man known to the world as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. the most revered leader of our time. Dr. King’s most notable accomplishments were the Montgomery Bus Boycott, being the founder and first President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the famed March on Washington, and being the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

Dr. King’s main legacy was to secure progress in civil rights for the American Negro and poor people in the United States, and, for this reason, he has become a human rights icon recognized as a martyr. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, a National Holiday, and honored with a monument on the Washington Mall in DC.

He was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. who was born “Michael King.” Few people know that Martin Luther King, Jr. was originally named “Michael King, Jr.” until the family traveled to Europe in 1934 and visited Germany. His father soon changed both of their names to Martin Luther in honor of the German Protestant leader Martin Luther. Here is a little-known fact about Dr. King: he sang with his church choir at the 1939 Atlanta premiere of the movie Gone with the Wind.

King married Coretta Scott, on June 18, 1953, on the lawn of her parents’ house in her hometown of Heiberger, Alabama; they had four children. At the age of twenty-five, he became Pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, where his trajectory to greatness was launched in 1954. He skipped both the ninth and the twelfth grade and entered Morehouse College at age fifteen without formally graduating from high school.

In 1948, he graduated from Morehouse with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology and enrolled in Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1951. King then began doctoral studies in systematic theology at Boston University and received his Doctor of Philosophy on June 5, 1955, with a dissertation on “A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman.”

King was originally skeptical of many of Christianity’s claims. Most striking perhaps was his denial of the bodily resurrection of Jesus during Sunday school at the age of thirteen. From this point, he stated, “doubts began to spring forth unrelentingly.” However, throughout his career of service, he wrote and spoke frequently, drawing on his experience as a preacher, which he understood to be his purpose. For example, in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” written in 1963, is a passionate statement of his crusade for justice. It was confirmed when he became the youngest recipient to receive the coveted Nobel Peace Prize for leading non-violent resistance to racial prejudice in the United States.

We have been taught to believe that Mrs. Parks’ refusal to give up her seat that day was an anomaly. Many Blacks refused, at one time or another, to give up their seats in the white only section usually resulting in being run out of town. There was a committee silently waiting for an instance where they could take it through the legal system to put an end to this unholy system. For example, in March 1955 a fifteen-year-old school girl, Claudette Colvin refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in compliance with the Jim Crow Laws.  King was on the committee from the Birmingham African American community that looked into the case; the committee decided to wait for a better case to pursue.

On December 1, 1955, the case that they were waiting for appeared. Mrs. Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat. The Montgomery Bus Boycott planned by E. D. Nixon and led by King emerged. The boycott lasted for 385 days crippling the city economically. The situation became so tense that King’s house was bombed, and he was arrested during this campaign. The case ultimately ended with a United States District Court ruling in Browder v. Gayle that ended racial segregation on all Montgomery public buses and throughout the south.

In 1957, Dr. King, Ralph Abernathy, and other civil rights activists founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a group created to harness the moral authority and organizing power of black churches to conduct non-violent protests in the service of civil rights reform. King led the SCLC until his death. Over his career, Dr. King narrowly escaped death as his life was in constant danger, but he remained faithful to a non-violent philosophy modeled by Gandhi’s non-violent techniques. Dr. King believed that organized non-violent protest against the system of southern segregation known as Jim Crow would lead to extensive media coverage of the struggle for black equality and voting rights.

It is my opinion that this was the single most powerful tool in the arsenal of the civil rights movement. This explosive media coverage, both journalistic and television footage of the daily deprivation and indignities suffered by southern blacks, and of segregationist violence and harassment of civil rights marchers produced a wave of sympathetic public opinion. This was in large part what convinced the majority of Americans that the civil rights movement was the most important issue in American politics in the early 1960’s. King organized and led marches for the right to vote, desegregation, labor rights and other basic civil rights. Most of these rights were successfully enacted into law with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

History will most remember Dr. King for his famous “I have a dream speech” during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom that took place on August 28, 1963. Dr. King, representing SCLC, was among the leaders of the so-called “Big Six” civil rights organizations who were instrumental in the organization of this massive event.

The other leaders and organizations comprising the Big Six were Roy Williams from the NAACP, Whitney Young of the Urban League, A. Philip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, John Lewis of SNCC, and James Farmer of the Congress of Racial Equality with King’s colleague Bayard Rustin the primary logistical and strategic organizer.

Dr. King’s legacy lives in the souls of all mankind, and his efforts did more for African American life in America than any other man in Negro history in spite of being the most hated man in the world at the time in which he lived. It is hard to fathom today what the world would be like if he never lived. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

 

In His Own Words


Celebrating The Prince Of Peace

2As we welcome  another National Holiday and celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther “The King”. I am grateful for the life and the special gift he was given to change the world. Today, HIS-story speaks of the good reverend with profound reverence, in fact placing him second only to Jesus. Now, please understand that I believe Dr. King’s place in history is well deserved, secure, and beyond reproach. However, I lived through and during the time in which he lived meaning HIS-story does not accurately reflect what I remember, witnessed or know to be true.

Dr. King’s career or national presence began in 1955, when a seamstress refused to give up her seat on a segregated public bus in Birmingham, Alabama. He was responsible for the hugely successful boycott that paralyzed the city and forced changes to long held separate but equal policies. It was during this period that his home was bombed with his lovely wife and babies inside. He was arrested many – many times for peacefully asking for the most basic of human dignities. He was assaulted, stabbed, trampled by horses, and made out to be a communist. He was called a villain and names like “Martin Luther Coon”, and worst. In fact, he was viewed as a terrorist in his day.

During the time in which he lived it was well known in our community that Dr. King had a mutually antagonistic relationship with the government’s top police agency; particularly its director, who ordered surveillance of him and his organization for years. Wiretaps were placed in his home, office phones and they bugged his hotel rooms as he traveled around the country. The agency tried to discredit him through revelations regarding his private life. Reports regarding his supposed extramarital and sexual affairs were distributed to the executive branch, friendly reporters, funding sources, and potential coalition partners, as well as to his lovely wife.

They had followed his every step, yet claimed not to know who fired the shot. So in light of all this surveillance and counterintelligence activity it was not too difficult to conclude that they knew exactly who murdered him and all involved. When the culprit was arrested it was revealed that he was merely a petty thief who was not capable of robbing the Girl Scouts. Let me put this in context, this guy had a few hundred dollars in twenty dollar bills yet managed to escape traveling halfway around the world before being caught.

I can vividly recall that dreadful day, April 4th, 1968, asking the question most of us asked; how could the Prince of Peace be murdered? WHY? My knowledge of history tells me that anytime someone appears who has the power to change the system, eliminating the change agent is the system’s way of preservation. In other words the system is designed to protect the system. Aside from winning the Nobel Peace Prize, leaving us with brilliant written words, the enormous sacrifices risking his life, and losing it for peace – I honor this great man on this day and always. It is because of that wretched part of society that demonized him while he lived that we should appreciate his life and take into consideration as we celebrate his legacy.

My deepest heartfelt memory of Dr. King was the night before his death when he gave a speech that appeared as if he knew he was going to die. It was the most passionate speech I had ever heard. In that speech, he proclaimed that he’d been to the mountaintop and had seen the other side. Further, he proclaimed he did not fear any man for his eyes had seen the coming of the Lord.

HIS-story calls him a dreamer as they say he had a dream. I say, he was a brave visionary or maybe by exercising the wisdom of God’s gift that he could see the future. Dr. King’s left us with a very powerful message delivered August 28, 1963 on the Mall in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC via the famous “I have a Dream Speech” – (Excerpts):

• “In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men – yes, black men as well as white men – would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.”

• “It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual.”

• “The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people. For many of our white brothers as evidenced by their presence here today have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.”

• “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

• “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

• “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.”

• “This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.”

• “Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.”

• “Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring—when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children—black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Never forget that injustice to anyone is an injustice to everyone. We can change the world but first we must change ourselves. The “Kings” message was simple like Moses he was saying “Let my people go”. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

 

 


SPIRITUAL GPS GOD PROMISED SOLUTIONS

About The Book

1Spiritual GPS is dedicated to the masses that found themselves paralyzed at life’s intersections and crossroads. This book is committed to those who are in desperate need for God’s direction each and every day of your life. To the one that has lost their way this book is devoted to you. To the one that can’t see God’s promises because of life’s obstructions this book is designed with you in mind.

If you have ever faced a problem that appeared to be bigger than the solution this book is handcrafted by God for you. If you have endeavored to hear the simple words you can this book is for you.

Spiritual GPS is tailored to people of diverse backgrounds and experiences. This book caters to individuals who dare to dream and live on the cutting edge of their next level. Spiritual GPS is focused on allowing you to concentrate on godly solutions instead of the equations.

About The Author

15824_448017698580061_170981324_nApostle Oliver T. Reid, called into the ministry in his youth, is a powerfully anointed and dynamic man of God.  Known to be a remnant preacher and a testament to these times, Apostle Reid flows with a global prophetic mandate with God’s signs and wonders following.  A man of many gifts and talents, he walks in the office of Pastor, Prophet, Evangelist and Teacher, and most affectionately knows him as “Apostle.”  As a trailblazer, stalwart, and international apostle Reid has a passion to see the body restored, sinner’s saved, and broken hearts mended.

A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, Apostle Reid is happily married to Miatta Reid and a proud father. He is a graduate of Winston Salem State University with a BA/BS degree in History and Sociology. Apostle Reid obtained a Bachelors as well as a Master’s Degree in Theology from Life Christian University. He is presently in pursuit of his Doctor of Ministry in Theology degree from Life Christian University.

Connect with Oliver:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/otrministriesint?ref=ts&fref=ts

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Links to purchase the book

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