Have you ever heard the name Bayard Rustin? Me neither.
That is, not until today, when I heard this inspiring piece air on Colorado Public Radio, and I learned why this man is known (by those who know him) as a “lost prophet of non-violence.”
Rustin was a behind-the-scenes kind of guy, but his influence was absolutely essential to the civil rights movement. He began by indoctrinating Martin Luther King Jr. into the principles of non-violence, was a fundamental organizer behind the famous 1963 March on Washington, proposed The Freedom Budget aimed at redirecting American wealth to create prosperity for all people, and promoted truly transcendent unity, beyond simplistic polarizations — all in the face of extreme racial and sexual prejudice.
The very breadth of his vision invited attack from all corners, at times alienating even those closest to him. This is a testament to his courage, and also explains how a man who made such significant contributions could be relegated to historical obscurity.
I strongly encourage you to tune into the entire hour-long radio show/podcast, but I understand that a 10-minute Youtube video is in many ways more appealing. This is an excellent clip:
Oh by the way, he could sing too.