Monday, January 19, 2009

A History Lesson

The countdown clock at the right is a little fast and is already showing that George Bush's term has ended. We'll cut it a little slack and just chalk it up to excitement.

As I write this, it's a little over 12 hours until Barack Obama takes the oath of office and becomes President of the United States. We've heard a lot about the people who have gone before and worked to make this day possible. I want to talk about someone who doesn't get a lot of mention, but who is my personal hero of the civil rights struggle, Bayard Rustin.

His life is much too complex and full for me to do it justice in a blog post, but he was a remarkable man. He is the man who introduced Martin Luther King, Jr. to the teachings of Gandhi. He was one of the organizers of the March on Washington. He was a co-founder of the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) He spent three years in prison because he refused to register for the draft during WWII.

But hardly anyone has heard of him. He recognized that his homosexuality and dabbling with communism in his youth would be a lightning rod for attacks by those opposed to the civil rights movement, so he worked in the background and sought no credit or attention for himself.

He was an amazing man, and you read more about him here. And I know that at noon tomorrow I will be thinking of him, and hoping that somewhere he is smiling.


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