Monday, August 22, 2011

Every Movement Needs Its Bureaucrat: Bayard Rustin

Steve Hendrix has a nice piece on Bayard Rustin in today's Post. He was the organizer of the 1963 March, the unsung bureaucrat who put the pieces together so Martin Luther King had an audience to preach his dream to.  Just goes to show that behind every successful venture there's a good bureaucrat who worries about nuts and bolts.

A bit of personal recollection: the March occurred after I'd graduated from college, but I was home at my summer job.  As a liberal, though not personally committed to action, I shared the concerns of many white liberals, including the Administration, that the March would be a flop.  Either there wouldn't be the attendance to make an impression, or there would be but things would "get out of hand" with violence.  So my personal reaction to the March was not appreciation for King's oratory; it was just another speech on the day, although as time went it got more and more attention.  My personal reaction was relief that the day went so well; in other words that Mr. Rustin had done a good job.

Rustin was one of, perhaps the person, which J. Edgar Hoover pointed to in trying to taint the civil rights movement with both radicalism and perversion.  Which shows when the cause is right, the personal qualities are less important.

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