Op-Ed: Remembering the Legacy of a Civil Rights Pioneer
BY Joe Solmonese
March 17 2012 3:00 AM ET
organizing. He was active in the Quaker church and in the arts. He was a
prolific doodler, a vocalist, a writer, and an accomplished chef.
Rustin would exhort activists to speak up from all corners, saying “we
need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers.” His
inclusive, coalition-centric approach is so effective because it wasn’t
just about work – it was about finding joy in activism and ensuring that
every community can reap the benefits of equality’s march forward.
philosophy personifies the shared goals we all have in our work,
whether we’re fighting for LGBT rights, working to protect our country’s
laborers, or advocating for the civil and human rights of society’s
most vulnerable populations.
We saw this brand of coalition
building just this year in Maryland, where people of faith, African
American communities, LGBT advocates, and fair-minded supporters of
basic human and civil rights came together to achieve a historic victory
for marriage equality in the Free State. It sent a clear message that
social justice wasn’t a gay issue, or a black issue, or a woman’s issue:
rather, we can and must continue to work together to ensure that all
members of our society achieve the rights, dignity, and respect they
This weekend, as we celebrate Bayard Rustin’s 100th
birthday, we must do more than just look back on his life and his
contributions. We must draw inspiration from his brand of inclusive
social activism as we gear up for future fights, from protecting women’s
health to advancing LGBT equality. We still have much to accomplish,
but Bayard Rustin has left our united movement a strong foundation on
which to continue building.