Brother Outsider *

Bayard Rustin
In the coming week the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington (August 28, 1963) and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s I have a Dream Speech. I was a pre-schooler when Dr. King made this speech, but there have been many
references to it following his assassination in Memphis in 1968.

But, the struggle for civil rights began long before that historic day in August 1963.

Bayard Rustin, an openly gay African American and community organizer, brought Gandhi's non-violent direct protest techniques to the civil rights movement and, subsequently, had an enormous influence on Dr. King. Rustin was the mastermind behind the historic March on Washington. Raised in the Quaker tradition, his upbringing had a profound influence on his life as an activist, artist, and singer.

In a ceremony marking the 50th Anniversary of President Kennedy's establishment of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, President Obama posthumously named Bayard Rustin as one of this year's recipients. The Medal of Freedom is the Nation's highest civilian honor presented in gratitude to men and women who have enriched our lives. In the White House press release, President Obama noted that "...Bayard Rustin was an unyielding activist for civil rights, dignity, and equality for all..." Rustin's example still resonates for us today.

* In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the MOW, PBS will broadcast the excellent documentary, Brother Outsider on Wednesday, August 28, 2013, 7:00 PM/EST and at midnight (check local listings). Full disclosure: I am good friends with Bennett Singer, one of the film's producers/directors. The film will also be available in streaming format on August 28 & 29.

We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers ~ Bayard Rustin

Amen, Brother.