With regard to the introduction to Bayard Rustin’s speech in the most recent issue of WIN, Vol. 29, No. 2:
I remember that Madison Square Garden Rally very well. It was almost a painful cry from Bayard that the movement needed to go into the streets and not be co-opted (as he was already being co-opted, vanishing into the bowels of the Democratic Party). Bayard didn’t march to the UN after the rally - but Norman Thomas did, as I remember, since I was one of a handful assigned to keep up with him and make sure he was OK. Even in old age, Norman moved very fast. When we got to the Isaiah Wall Norman looked out at the crowd and said, “I can see there are hundreds of you there.” I was standing just behind Norman and said. “Norman, say thousands,” and he quickly said, “I’ve just been told there are thousands of you who have marched here.”
Bayard was many things — courageous beyond words. But he wasn’t a pioneer of the gay rights movement. He was a “pioneer” only in the sense that, like many of us who were homosexual, he also was active in the radical movement. He had nothing to say to the gay rights crowd until sometime in the 1970’s, some years after Stonewall. He was
a great man — but he had great failings as well, one of which was his tacit support of the Vietnam War.
New York, NY
Tear Gas Campaign
I was exposed to tear gas in Berkeley, California in the 1970s during, or after, antiwar protests. I can state from personal experience it is extremely irritating – and definitely non-lethal. Your enthusiasm to make causes fashionable has led to a misdirected campaign.
It would be far preferable to launch a movement to revise the 2nd Amendment and confiscate the accumulated wealth of the NRA, for firearms are unquestionably lethal, whereas tear gas is not.
Thank you for this effort! I was twice tear gassed during a protest march in Washington, DC during the early days of the Vietnam War and again in the late stages of the War when leaving the Mall for Union Station to return to Philadelphia. We were three women in our mid-50 years. I’m now 92 years old and happy to see you taking this on.
Claire S. Davidson
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