Rustin Instilled Power To The People

BY Michelle Garcia

March 16 2012 4:00 AM ET

letter is especially interesting because of its suggestion that Rustin
and King had been talking privately about the possibility of making
public statements about the Vietnam War. On June 8, Bayard himself
delivered an antiwar speech before 17,000 protestors during a four-hour
rally at Madison Square Garden. According to the
New York Times,
Rustin "advised the crowd to take to the streets." Speaking after
Rustin, Benjamin Spock then "called upon those left in the Garden to do
just that," and 2,000 demonstrators marched to the United Nations
complex. Coretta Scott King spoke at the event, too, but her husband was
noticeably absent.

June 4, 1965

A technical
surveillance was instituted on the residence of Bayard Rustin, Apartment
9J 340 West 28th Street, New York City, on November 15, 1963. Rustin is
a former member of the Young Communist League, an organization which
has been designated subversive pursuant to Executive Order 10450. He has
for many years maintained an association with members of the Communist
Party, USA. Rustin is a principal leader in the civil rights movement
and is frequently an adviser to Martin Luther King Jr.

technical surveillance has provided much valuable intelligence
concerning communist influences upon King. It has also been a prolific
source relative to advance planning of racial demonstrations throughout
the country. Some examples will serve to illustrate.

February, 1965, information was obtained concerning King's meeting with
his advisers who have communist backgrounds prior to a meeting which
King had with the President and you. During March 1965, we learned of
the plans of King and the aforementioned advisers relative to the
marches which took place that month in the Selma-Montgomery, Alabama
area. In April, 1965, we learned that King was joining others to protest
the United States policy relative to Vietnam.

Unless you instruct to the contrary, this technical surveillance will be continued for an additional six months.

J. Edgar Hoover

was indeed counseling the Nobel Peace Prize winner to make a public
stand against the war, and King would do so in July, when he took the
occasion of a speech before the Virginia branch of the [Southern
Christian Leadership Conference] to state: "I'm not going to sit by and
see war escalated without saying anything about it." King added that the
Vietnam War "must be stopped," and that he was considering joining
peace rallies. "We're not going to defeat communism with bombs and guns
and gases," he stated. A month later, on August 12, King would then use a
mass rally in Birmingham, with help and counsel from Rustin, to call
for President Johnson to issue "unconditional and unambiguous"
statements indicating a willingness to negotiate with the Vietcong, and
to "consider halting the bombing of North Vietnam." He also stated that
he would ask the leaders of North and South Vietnam to negotiate an end
to this war. This announcement, which clearly echoed Rustin's own
evolving thoughts, differed sharply from statements issued by radical
pacifists who were calling for an immediate and unconditional end to the

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