Tag Archives: Washington DC

Remembering The Mayor For Life

193_160Marion Barry, my political hero, is very worthy of praise because he energized generations of young people and in fact was a DC legend. I am sure, if you are not from the Washington DC, you only know him because of his often troubled past reported by the media. I would ask you to think about this for a moment. How could he have had a political career as long and been elected to so many positions unless he was doing great things for the people of the community he served. This is to include being elected Mayor four times.

I would venture to say that most do not know that Washington, DC was then and is now – the last plantation. The city was ruled by Southern Dixcrates in Congress until 1968 when President Johnson came up with what was called “Home Rule” at which time he installed a black face as Mayor after the riots. Although most were pleased by this, but as the system has done all around the world – Mayor Walter Washington was appointed and only a puppet. I am sure the thinking at the time was that they could control the black population of the city with their man in place. You must remember DC was 80% black and known as “Chocolate City.”

However, they never expected a man like Marion Barry to hold the office of mayor. Barry was elected and served as the second Mayor of the District of Columbia and elected a total of four times. A Democrat, he served three tenures on the City Council, representing as an at-large member for the largely African American Ward 8.

A sharecropper’s son from one of the most racist places on earth – Mississippi – he knew and understood the indignities of segregation and discrimination. In the 1960s, he was involved in the Civil Rights Movement, first as a member of the Nashville Student Movement sit-ins; then serving as the first chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Barry came to national prominence as mayor of the national capital, the first prominent civil-rights activist to become chief executive of a major American city; he gave the presidential nomination speech for Jesse Jackson at the 1984 Democratic National Convention.

This is what I know to be true: He fostered equality and encouraged black empowerment. It was Barry who ordered that twenty-five percent of district contracts and government funds be directed to the African American business community. He founded a community help organization – PRIDE INC. He opened up political opportunities to blacks in the city for the first time in its history. He championed health and senior issues. However, his most profound legacy was his Summer Work Program where any young person residing in the city that wanted a job – GOT ONE!

His critics will always point to a moment that transformed his celebrity into international notoriety when he was videotaped smoking cocaine and arrested by FBI on drug charges. We now know they used a paid informant to lure him to a hotel room to accomplish this. I will say, and I am proud to say for his entire political career there have never been any indications of financial miss-management or him taking a dime from the government.

Let me ask, who amongst us is without sin. What is important to remember every prominent black leader was subjected to the Hoover devised COINTEL program. Therefore, I contend that this arrest was more about the plan to ensure he was removed by any means necessary because of his power. The arrest and subsequent trial precluded Barry from seeking re-election. He served six months in a federal prison. After his release, however, he WAS elected to the DC City Council in 1992 and ultimately returned to the mayoralty in 1994, serving from 1995 to 1999.

Despite his history of political and legal controversies, Barry was a popular and influential figure in the DC political scene – he was legendary. He helped many-many people and was relevant to the masses. The alternative weekly Washington City Paper nicknamed him “Mayor for life,” a designation that remained long after Barry left the mayoralty. The Washington Post has stated “to understand the District of Columbia, one must understand Marion Barry. Today and forever, we mourn the legend of this man who was larger than life. If he did not exist, he would have to be created, for sure, but Washington DC and its people would not be the same without his presence. Rest in Peace! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


The Graceful First Family!

You made me proud to be an America but today “not so much”!

09

GOD BLESS AMERICA


The History Of Georgetown In Washington DC

e361da2724400e3a212a7f1a90b19fc9Let me take you on a journey exploring the rich history of Georgetown, once a black community that has become little more than a footnote in the annals of time with respect to its origin. Georgetown, just down the street from the White House, was part of the unholy system imposed upon people of color commonly referred to as “Jim Crow” and every city or town in America had such a place during segregation.

The entire world knows DC is the capital and symbol of the free world with its avenues of grand marble structures that are more or less a crystallization of magnificence for tourist to admire. These magnificent architectural marvels are symbols of the power associated with America’s wealth built on the backs of slaves. This area downtown is known as the Federal Triangle because it is an area established for federal government entities.

However, there is a hidden Washington that some call a tale of two cities. Just blocks for these symbols of opulence live the disenfranchised, downtrodden, and neighborhoods of the forgotten. Before 1967, the city was run by and under federal control, which is why it is called a District – i.e., the District of Columbia. It was President Johnson who appointed Walter Washington, an African American, as the city’s first-ever Mayor-Commissioner in an effort that came to be known as home rule.

The city has always been predominately African American with no real authority over its direction. The “District” as many locals call it was nothing more than a sleepy southern town not much different from any town in South Carolina or Mississippi as far as blacks were concerned. It was run by Dixiecrats to this point, and the Dixiecrats were worst than what we know today a Conservatives or Republicans. What you may not know, even today Washington has no voting representation in Congress making the capital of the free world basically a plantation.

Washington has many African American enclaves that have long storied histories, but did you know Georgetown, one of Washington’s most renowned upscale communities, was once one of them. It is probably best known today as the home of Georgetown University and its championship basketball teams; coached by the legendary John Thompson, and now by his son. There were many luminous NBA sports figures produced by the institution. You may also know Georgetown because of its world-renowned nightlife, shopping or maybe a place home to famous people. One of its most famous residents was a young John Kennedy and his new bride Jackie, who called Georgetown home before moving into the White House.

It is also worth mentioning that many notable African American figures resided in communities around town such as the great orator Frederick Douglass, who owned a home in Anacostia. Carter G. Woodson the creator of the concept “Black History Month” also owned a home in the city. These great men and many prominent African American politicians, artists, entrepreneurs, scholars, athletes and socialites were relegated to live in a town divided by the harsh separate but equal laws of the day.

Georgetown began as a Maryland tobacco port on the banks of the Potomac River in 1751. When Congress created the District of Columbia to be the nation’s capital in 1791, its 10-mile square boundaries were drawn to include this port town, as well as the very similar Virginia tobacco port of Alexandria just across the river. Alexandria was given back to Virginia in 1846, but Georgetown remains as one of Washington’s most lively urban neighborhoods.

Georgetown historically had a large African American population, including both slaves and free blacks. Slave labor was widely used in the construction of new buildings in Washington just as they were used to provide labor on tobacco plantations in Maryland and Virginia. Let me be very clear, slaves and their labor were the workforces that built the White House, Capital, and most of the grand marble structures of opulence.

Georgetown was also a major slave-trading depot that dates back as early as 1760. John Beattie established his business on O Street and conducted business at other locations called “pens” around Wisconsin Avenue and M Street with both locations being just a short distance from the White House. Slave trading continued until the mid-19th century, when it was ended on April 16, 1862. Many former slaves moved to Georgetown following their freedom establishing this thriving community.

When African Americans settled in Georgetown, the free men established the Mount Zion United Methodist Church that remains today, which is the oldest African American congregation in Washington. This feat due to their strong religious convictions was a testament to their fortitude after experiencing the horrors of slavery. Mount Zion also provided a cemetery for free burials to Washington’s earlier African American population. Before establishing the church, free blacks and slaves went to the Dumbarton Methodist Church where they were restricted to hot, overcrowded balcony.

I’m sure a sense of extreme prided was evident in Washington at the time because it became the home of Howard University. Although not in Georgetown, this preeminent university was established for Blacks in 1867 with the aid of the Freedmen’s Bureau. It was named for the commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau, General Oliver Otis Howard. The Freedmen’s Bureau was intended to help solve everyday problems of the newly freed slaves, but its most widely recognized achievement was its accomplishments in the area of education. Before the Civil War, no southern state had a system of universal, state-supported public education for “Coloreds” but Washington now had an advanced school of learning.

In the early twentieth century, new construction of large apartment buildings began on the edge of Georgetown. The eyes of the elite became trained on the area. John Ihlder led efforts to take advantage of new zoning laws to get restrictions enacted on construction in Georgetown. However, legislators largely ignored concerns about the historic preservation of Georgetown until 1950, when Public Law 808 was passed establishing the historic district of “Old Georgetown.” The law required the United States Commission of Fine Arts to be consulted on any alteration, demolition, or building construction within the historic district. As you can imagine, this proper and official sounding solution was not designed to benefit the African American citizens living in Georgetown.

Georgetown began to emerge as a fashion and cultural center of the newly identified community. While many “old families” stayed in Georgetown, the neighborhood’s population became poorer and more racially diverse. Its demographics started to shift as a wave of new post-war residents arrived, many politically savvy, well-educated, and people from elite backgrounds took a keen interest in the neighborhood’s historic nature for their own benefit. It was during this time that the Citizens Association of Georgetown was formed. It is my understanding that the Old Georgetown Act was really a polite, or maybe not so polite, way of saying gentrification.

I am not implying nor suggesting that the Act was designed to remove African American’s and poor residences from the community (wink). But it did create an environment where people of low to moderate income could no longer afford to live there. High-end developments and gentrification have revitalized the formally African American neighborhood and what was viewed as a blighted industrial waterfront.

Some say, what happened in simple terms according to the thinking of the day; someone decided to trade a penny for a pound, and very effectively. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Media Kit 


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”


Commentary: Politricks

grim-reperIt was Solomon who said, “there is nothing new under the sun”! After the farce of what they call a political primary. I have to wonder what does this mean for black people or people of color. Is it as simple as two very rich white people telling us how they can help white folk. In what they call democracy, or shall I say the hypocrisy of democracy, all of the American people has to make a choice for the next president. I will say, without hesitation, we are going to miss the black guy.

Malcolm once said, “They give a man the vote, and it will make him think he is free.” This is a profound statement in that black people have virtually no rights nor has this race of people seen anything close to freedom. By the way, never known anything close to liberty. The American people did elect a man with a black face as president, twice, and black people did not receive anything more than they had before. All other groups, especially gay people, were helped greatly and got something from him, but not the people who look like him.

The fact is that “history shows that it does not matter who is in power or what revolutionary forces take over the government, those who have not learned to do for themselves and had to depend solely on others never obtain any more rights or privileges in the end than they had in the beginning.” Dr. Woodson said that about eighty years ago and it still rings true. If the man who looks like black people did very little for blacks people, in spite of their overwhelming support and cover they gave to him – how in the world can we expect Clinton or Trump to do anything for this unwanted constituency!

The former Goldwater Girl, Mrs. Clinton, has somehow fooled black people into thinking she loves them, when in fact, she is merely playing the same game that all other white politicians have played. Talking loud and saying nothing that will become a reality. Twenty years ago Bill, her husband, tricked black people into thinking that he was one of us too. They called him foolishly “the first black president”.

This is what he did for black people, under his administration, he facilitated the policies to put millions of black people in jail for long periods of time though his tough on crime initiatives. On top of that, he stripped million of black people from the welfare rolls. Both actions devastated millions of families and hurt, primarily, people of color.

Mr. Trump has not shown any indication that his administration with him as president would do anything at all for black people. He probably would like to deport black people. But the problem is, because his ancestors stole this race of people and made them slaves; what would he do with this group. Frankly, they have nowhere to go. His argument is that he will make America great again, and he plans to take back his country, which are codeword for white power and make it white, and more racist. Fact is America was never that great to black people.

Just look at the crowds at his rallies and see if you can find a black face; unless he is throwing them out. If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor to these candidates; therefore, it stands in danger of being exterminated, which is the ultimate goal. It has been four hundred years and our situation has barely improved, and the so-called forefathers intended that it does not. Second class people forever! You do remember that the Constitution calls black people 3/4th a person.

Let me give you a brief history fact: there is a common belief that the Kennedy’s, JFK and Bobby, were the black man’s friend. At the time, it was said that they were the Negro’s best and only hope. Well, that was not true in either case. Jack used the Negro to get their votes and did nothing for black people. Bobby was the one who signed the order for Hoover to spy on and go after Dr. King as the Attorney General.

Why not exploit, enslave, or exterminate a class that everybody is taught to regard as inferior? Exploitation of black people through economic restriction and segregation is the American way. The present system is sound and will no doubt continue until it gives way to the saner policy of actual interracial cooperation; not the present farce of racial manipulation in which black people are seen as of no value other than to give them a vote and their money.

The devil has said, there will be riots if he is not the republican candidate, so what does that say about his propensity for war and his non-condemnation of the KKK – what does that say about what about black lives mean to him. So black people you have a difficult choice; pick the devil or the wicked witch! If you chose the lesser of two evils, you still are choosing evil. Then the question becomes will you get any more than you have gotten in the past? I will answer that question; NOTHING! Voting is like fool’s gold, the person who votes mean nothing; it is the person who counts the that mean everything. And that is my thought provoking perspective…


Black Music Month: The Godfather Of Go-Go

It has been a year since the man who filled Washington DC with his legendary Go-Go music passed away. As one of the thousands of “Chuckaholics” Chuck Brown will live forever. “He’s like our Elvis.” So let’s all say, “Wind Me Up, Chuck” and my you Rest in Peace.

The Nation’s Capital still mourns the passing of Washington DC’s favorite son Chuck Brown known as the “Godfather of Go-Go”. Chuck made a name for himself in the 70s with the smash hit “Bustin’ Loose” and effectively birthing a new genre in Go-Go music. Largely a native to the Washington Metro area, Go-Go music is a byproduct of funk and soul backed by African rhythms, call-and-response chants and dances tailored made for the music. Brown was infamous for his “Wind Me Up, Chuck” routine and his hefty baritone voice was both melodic and confident.

Chuck Brown was a favorite of Washingtonians, enjoying popularity in the city and abroad that continued on for decades. The Godfather is considered by many to be Washington musical royalty, and his loss leaves behind a legacy of hits and thousands of mourning fans who grew up with his music.

The 75-year-old musician’s is said to have learned music in his early years in prison where the performer, singer, guitarist and songwriter developed his commanding brand of funk in the mid-1970s to compete with the dominance of disco. Like a DJ blending records, Mr. Brown used nonstop percussion to stitch songs together and keep the crowd on the dance floor, resulting in marathon performances that went deep into the night. Mr. Brown said the style got its name because “the music just goes and goes.”

In addition to being go-go’s principal architect, Mr. Brown remained the genre’s most charismatic figure. On stage, his spirited call-and-response routines became a hallmark of the music, reinforcing a sense of community that allowed the scene to thrive. As go-go became a point of pride for black Washingtonians, Mr. Brown became one of the city’s most recognizable figures.

“No single type of music has been more identified with Washington than go-go, and no one has loomed larger within it as Chuck Brown,” former Washington Post pop music critic Richard Harrington wrote in 2001.

Mr. Brown’s creation, however, failed to have the same impact outside of the Beltway. The birth of go-go doubled as the high-water mark of Mr. Brown’s national career. With his group the Soul Searchers, his signature hit “Bustin’ Loose” not only minted the go-go sound, it spent four weeks atop the R&B singles chart in 1978.

“Bustin’ Loose” was “the one record I had so much confidence in,” Mr. Brown told The Post in 2001. “I messed with it for two years, wrote a hundred lines of lyrics and only ended up using two lines. . . . It was the only time in my career that I felt like it’s going to be a hit.”

It was Mr. Brown’s biggest single, but throughout the 1980s “We Need Some Money,” “Go-Go Swing” and “Run Joe” became local anthems, reinforced by radio support and the grueling performance schedule that put Mr. Brown on area stages six nights a week. While rap music exploded across the country, go-go dominated young black Washington, with groups including Trouble Funk, Rare Essence and Experience Unlimited (also known as E.U.) follows in Mr. Brown’s footsteps.

Family, friends, and fans of the man known as the “Godfather of Go-Go”; we still love you and thank you for your musical contribution. Brown’s legendary Go-Go music played venue all over the world – can’t you still hear the crowds shouting “Wind me up Chuck”? May your soul Rest in Peace. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Unsung Episode


The Man Behind The Dream

It’s been more that fifty years since the March on Washington became the crowning achievement of the Civil Rights Movement. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is now remembered with a memorial on the National Mall. This is a major accomplishment for his legacy and a testament to his living spirit. I am very proud and honored to have live long enough to see the first man of color to receive such distinction 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. One person in particular would be 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 head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters who at that time was a leading articulator of the rights of Afro-Americans.

He 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 on the part of his imprisonment.

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 into public 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 President Eisenhower 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 March on Washington 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 a 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 was 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.

Let’s not let the dream die! All of us stand upon the shoulders of someone be it great or not. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


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