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By Jerald Podair

Bayard Rustin used to be a special 20th-century American radical voice. A gay, international struggle II draft resister, and ex-communist, Rustin made huge, immense contributions to the civil rights, socialist, exertions, peace, and homosexual rights routine within the usa, regardless of being seen as an intruder through fellow activists. writer Jerold Podair additionally contains excerpts from Rustin's writings, speeches, letters, and statements, permitting the reader to achieve firsthand interplay with the most vital civil rights leaders?and essentially the most vital radical leaders?in 20th-century American heritage.

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

Sample text

S. civil rights movement. , as the movement’s leader, public face, and symbol. As spokesman for the newly formed Montgomery Improvement Association, organized to coordinate the boycott, King confronted a white power structure desperate to preserve its prerogatives and willing to employ desperate measures to do so. Over the course of the previous one hundred years, the institutional framework of white supremacy in the South had developed into a monolith. Police, elected officials, judges, voting registrars, the penal system, business associations, “citizens’ councils,” even extralegal terror groups such as the Ku Klux Klan all worked together to ensure that the racial status quo remained in place.

Truman had established a special civil rights commission at the end of 1946, it was inconceivable that he would use federal power to alter the patterns of everyday life in the South. Into this political and moral vacuum stepped CORE. The issue of integrated public transportation fit its agenda perfectly. CORE could employ nonviolent direct action under relatively advantageous circumstances, in this instance seeking to enforce a just court ruling rather than defy an unjust one. Rustin and his CORE colleagues jumped at the opportunity to enforce what was now the law of the land by putting their bodies on the line.

Rustin wrote extensively for the journal and served on its editorial board until the mid-1960s. By then it had become a leading organ of what was known as the New Left, a radicalism liberated from the connections with Soviet repression that had delegitimatized the older, Communist left. The New Left traced its origins to the birth in 1962 of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a group that brought the perspective of students and youth to American radicalism. In its founding document, the Port Huron Statement, SDS challenged the United States to live up to its stated ideals of equality, freedom, and democracy and to resolve the contradictions that lay beneath them.

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