Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Alveda King needs to put up or shut up about her Bayard Rustin accusation

Alveda King
Last Wednesday, Alveda King, the niece of Martin Luther King, Jr. put out a statement to address the push back she received from criticizing the NAACP. The NAACP passed a resolution supporting marriage equality and King did not agree with it because she has made a "name" for herself by speaking against marriage equality and gay rights in general.

Among other things she said in the statement was the following:

"The 21st century homosexual lobby likes to point to the professional relationship between my uncle Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bayard Rustin, his openly homosexual staffer who left the movement at the height of the campaign. Rustin attempted to convince Uncle M. L. that homosexual rights were equal with civil rights. Uncle M. L. did not agree, and would not attach the homosexual agenda to the 20th century civil rights struggles. So Mr. Rustin resigned. 

I have to tell you that when I first read that statement, I was, in street terms, pissed off to the highest levels of pissivity.

Bayard Rustin (right) with Martin Luther King, Jr.
I literally went into orbit because I knew her statement wasn't accurate. According to several sources, most specifically the book Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin by John D'Emilio, Bayard Rustin resigned because prominent black leaders, specifically the late Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, had gotten jealous of King's influence and were going to accuse him and the openly gay Rustin of being lovers.

It was some of these same leaders who did not want Rustin to have anything to do with the 1963 March on Washington, but labor leader A. Philip Randolph insisted that Rustin be involved. And Rustin proceeded to coordinate probably the most successful march in the nation's history.

Furthermore Rustin began speaking about gay issues in the 1980s at the behest of his partner, Walter Naegle. This was over two decades after MLK's death.

Consequently, I wrote a post not only correcting King's assertions but also challenging her designation as a black leader because, being honest about Ms. King's "credentials," if she were not the niece of MLK, no one would care what she had to say.  She was a child during the civil rights movement so it's safe to say that she was not included in King's inner circle and nor was privy to his beliefs or thoughts.

I felt a little satisfied with what I wrote but gradually, it became not enough for me. I got many kudos and literal pats on the backs but that wasn't satisfying because Alveda King's unchallenged inaccurate assertion of Rustin was still out there.

Bayard Rustin is one of my idols and a very important figure in the fight for equality. He was an integral part of the civil rights movement. He not only coordinated the 1963 March on Washington, but he also influence Dr. King when it came to nonviolent protest. However, he remained in the background because he was also openly gay. Even though I know he never sought the spotlight, Rustin should have gotten some appreciation for his work and some knowledge by the general population of what he had done while he was alive.

Slowly but surely, he is now getting what he deserves in terms of name recognition.

But then Ms. Alveda King proceeds to spread false stories about Rustin in order to exploit the supposed difference of opinion between the gay and African-American community on the subject of gay equality. Her statement is damaging because some people are still not aware of Bayard Rustin's contributions and they could actually believe that tripe she spread. Subsequently they see won't Rustin as a tireless fighter for equality - which he was - but someone who was attempting to manipulate MLK for his own purposes.

It more than bothers me. It unnerves me that Bayard Rustin, this great man who never really got his due, could be further denied because the knowledge of his work and existence interferes with the plans of a wannabe activist exploiting the name of her famous uncle.

And it also bothered me that other than myself, very few people - and even fewer organizations such as GLAAD, HRC, or even the NAACP - called out Ms. King for her inaccurate statement.

So I have taken further action

The following is what I wrote on Alveda King's blog:

a.mcewen says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
May 28, 2012 at 7:10 PM
 You told a blatant lie. Rustin never tried to convince King of anything. Rustin resigned because several black leaders were jealous of King’s influence and one of them – the late Congressman Adam Clayton Powell – was going to accuse King and Rustin of being lovers. Rustin didn’t really start talking about gay issues until the 1980s at the behest of his partner Walter Naegle. I am interested as to where you received your information. You cannot speak the truth in love if the words you speak are inaccurate.
 I have included my email address – charlekenghis@aol.com and I would like to know where you received your information regarding your claims of Rustin.

a.mcewen says:
Your comment is awaiting moderation.
BTW, I received my information from several sources including the book Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin by John D’Emilio.
And again, I ask that you supply the proof of your charges. I have supplied my email address and will be expecting some type of answer from you. Thank you.

The POINT is will Ms. King give me a satisfactory answer or even post my comments?

I will be monitoring her blog. If she gives an answer, I will be very interested as to what it will be and I will post it.

If she chooses not to answer my questions or if my questions are deleted, then WE ALL would have our answer, wouldn't we?

And if the latter happens, we all need to let it be known about Ms. King's credibility - or definitely lack thereof - when she attempts to pass herself off as a leader in the black community.

The ball is now in your court, Ms. King. You called the game. Now you must play it.

Editor's note - I ask that anyone feeling compelled to go to Ms. King's blog and leave comments demonstrate the same dignity and grace that Bayard Rustin showed as a true leader in the fight for equality. Please remember that ignorant and juvenile comments will most likely be given center stage as indicative of the entire gay community at large and thus will allow an evasion of the question at hand. So while you may feel the need to become so angry that you speak before thinking, please be aware such comments can the cause more damage than good to not only our fight for equality but also Mr. Rustin's reputation.

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Gregory Peterson said...

To add insult to Ms King's injury, this is Bayard Rustin's 100th birthday year. Here is a blogger's nice tribute to him which includes the cover of LIFE magazine with Rustin and A. Philip Randolph. http://mjshochat723.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/happy-100th-birthday-bayard-rustin/

Jason J. said...

Dear Ms. Alveda, please read me