Rustin at a news briefing on the Civil Rights March on Washington, August 27, 1963
March 17, 1912|
West Chester, Pennsylvania
|Died||August 24, 1987
Manhattan, New York
|Organization||Fellowship of Reconciliation, Congress of Racial Equality, War Resisters League, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Social Democrats, USA (National Chairman), A. Philip Randolph Institute (President), Committee on the Present Danger|
|Movement||Civil Rights Movement, Peace Movement, Socialism, Gay Rights Movement, Neoconservatism|
|Partner(s)||Davis Platt, Walter Naegle|
|Awards||Presidential Medal of Freedom|
If we desire a society in which men are brothers, then we must act towards one another with brotherhood. If we can build such a society, then we would have achieved the ultimate goal of human freedom.
If we desire a society of peace, then we cannot achieve such a society through violence. If we desire a society without discrimination, then we must not discriminate against anyone in the process of building this society. If we desire a society that is democratic, then democracy must become a means as well as an end.
I have seen periods of progress followed by reaction. I have seen the hopes and aspirations of Negroes rise during World War II, only to be smashed during the Eisenhower years. I am seeing the victories of the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations destroyed by Richard Nixon.
The principal factors which influenced my life are 1) nonviolent tactics; 2) constitutional means; 3) democratic procedures; 4) respect for human personality; 5) a belief that all people are one.
The Journey of Reconciliation was organized not only to devise techniques for eliminating Jim Crow in travel, but also as a training ground for similar peaceful projects against discrimination in such major areas as employment and in the armed services.
War is wrong. Conscription for war is inconsistent with freedom of conscience, which is not merely the right to believe but to act on the degree of truth that one receives, to follow a vocation which is God-inspired and God-directed.
We demand that segregation be ended in every school district in the year 1963! We demand that we have effective civil rights legislation – no compromise, no filibuster – and that include public accommodations, decent housing, integrated education, FEPC and the right to vote.
My activism did not spring from my being gay, or, for that matter, from my being black. Rather, it is rooted fundamentally in my Quaker upbringing and the values that were instilled in me by my grandparents who reared me.
I am an opponent of war and of war preparations and an opponent of universal military training and conscription; but entirely apart from that issue, I hold that segregation in any part of the body politic is an act of slavery and an act of war.
When an individual is protesting society's refusal to acknowledge his dignity as a human being, his very act of protest confers dignity on him.
The organizers and perpetuators of segregation are as much the enemy of America as any foreign invader.
I am a Quaker. And as everyone knows, Quakers, for 300 years, have, on conscientious ground, been against participating in war. I was sentenced to three years in federal prison because I could not religiously and conscientiously accept killing my fellow man.
The barometer for judging the character of people, in regard human rights, is now those who consider themselves gay, homosexual, lesbian. The judgment as to whether you can trust the future, the social advancement – depending on people – will be judged on where they come out on that question.
Martin Luther King, with whom I worked very closely, became very distressed when a number of the ministers working for him wanted him to dismiss me from his staff because of my homosexuality.
Since Israel is a democratic state surrounded by essentially undemocratic states which have sworn her destruction, those interested in democracy everywhere must support Israel's existence.
Surely, I must at all times attempt to obey the law of the state. But when the will of God and the will of the state conflict, I am compelled to follow the will of God.