Bayard Rustin: American Dreamer (The African American by Jerald Podair

By Jerald Podair

Bayard Rustin was once a different 20th-century American radical voice. A gay, global warfare II draft resister, and ex-communist, Rustin made huge, immense contributions to the civil rights, socialist, exertions, peace, and homosexual rights events within the usa, regardless of being seen as an intruder by means of fellow activists. writer Jerold Podair additionally comprises excerpts from Rustin's writings, speeches, letters, and statements, permitting the reader to achieve firsthand interplay with the most very important civil rights leaders?and essentially the most vital radical leaders?in 20th-century American historical past.

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Extra info for Bayard Rustin: American Dreamer (The African American History Series)

Sample text

Ferguson Supreme Court decision of 1896, which declared Toward Peace and Racial Justice, 1946–1963 37 “separate but equal” public accommodations constitutional, had given legal sanction to an array of Jim Crow laws that segregated schools, theaters, parks, hotels, and street cars, and effectively disenfranchised black voters. ” This effort accelerated after World War II, as the Legal Defense Fund, led by future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, sought a high Court ruling that all separate facilities were inherently unequal.

However, it did lay the groundwork for new leftist politics in the 1960s. Rustin and his WRL colleagues understood the connections between capitalism, imperialism, and militarism and sought to attack them with words and deeds. A notable example came on June 15, 1955, Operation Alert day across the United States, when all Americans were required to take shelter at a specified time during a simulated nuclear attack. Rustin led a WRL-sponsored protest in New York’s City Hall Park, a location he selected deliberately for its dramatic effect.

The white inmate’s response spoke to the power of Rustin’s words and demeanor. Robbed of the moral initiative, he finally sank back in exhaustion and frustration. He had broken Rustin’s wrist, but he was clearly the loser in their encounter. Rustin had turned his tormentor’s physical strength against him. Rustin confronted a system of racial segregation at Ashland that bent but would not break. He managed to extract small compromises from the prison authorities, including permission to teach reading and civics to white inmates and the integration of church services.

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