Honoring a local son who made a difference

editorial, Daily Local News, 3/5/12

…On Saturday, dozens paid tribute to Rustin at a gala celebrating not only the opening of the new exhibit of his life at the historical society’s hall in West Chester, but also the civil rights leader’s 100th birthday. “Bayard taught me the meaning of not feeling tired when tiredness overtook me,” the Rev. Anderson E. Porter told the crowd at the society’s auditorium.

Rustin was born in West Chester in 1912 and after years of struggle with the civil rights question here in our community and later at a national level, joined with others in organizing the 1963 March on Washington that dramatically highlighted the movement and the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. It was there that King gave his monumental “I Have A Dream” speech, and it is easy to believe that without Rustin standing — figuratively, if not literally — behind him, the world would not have heard King’s greatest oration.

Rustin’s activism began in high school. He protested segregation at the Warner Theater on High Street and refused to stay in segregated hotel quarters while traveling with the high school track team, according to the historical society.

Rustin was no stranger to other controversy, either. He was frequently targeted for not only his race but also his sexual orientation and political affiliations. “He had three marks against him,” Porter said. “Not only was he criticized for being black, but also for at one time being a member of the Communist Party and for being gay.” …

read the whole editorial at Daily Local News

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Filed under Gay & lesbian issues, Rights, Justice, Law

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