Friday, October 28, 2011

A clown, a flamencero, an activist

Bayard Rustin

Hope and Nan have come to meet wth Jane and Tia to work out the details of Jane’s coming to live with us  and Sanctuary coming to worship. Nan makes the financial issues relatively easy to work through. There is a bit of anxiety, however, as Jane needs to fly back to California immediately for a family situation. We wrap up the business pretty quickly.  
Mim has come for a conversatoion with Danielle and Martin about the possilbity of his bringing Noche Flamenco here. While we’re talking, Brian comes in looking for me. It’s been a long time since he was here last December and even longer since he was a regular part of the congregation. Brian, the church, and I have all had a number of lives since he was Winky the Clown, Santa Claus and Spider Man. 
We go to the Starbucks office annex for coffee. He’s had success in his career with industrial shows and also challenges, like all of us. I’m  very blunt about where we are. What the three years at SPSA cost us. How the congregation is not what it was back in his days. And that I need him, his help.  And it feels like something  in him needs this opportunity to start with something at the ground floor again, too. 

When we walk back from Starbucks, we part at the corner. He’s off to a museum before flying back to LA. And me back to the church. Mim has gone. Martin is still there. He’s using West-PArk to prepare for his upcoming European tour. Today he’s intrigued by, fascinated by reading about Bayard Rustin. That quietly heroic Quaker, pacifist, unionist, internationalist, socialist, activist, strategist...steadfast gay black man. He refused to move from his bus seat years before Rosa Parks. Was advisor to Martin Luther King, Jr. Uncle to CORE and SNCC. Advocate for Indian independence.  He said that the major factors in his life were: 1) nonviolent tactics; 2) constitutional means; 3) democratic procedures; 4) respect for human personality; 5) a belief that all people are one. In 1986 he wrote that gays were the new niggers, the barometers of society. 

Martin has all the excitement of someone  learning about something, someone, for the first time. Today as Occupy Wallstreet continues to capture our attention, it’s important to remember those from the Civil Rights era who saw the liited nature of identity poircs and the need for a critical class analysis. Rustin was one of those who got there early, along with AJ Muste, pacifist and founder of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. (My friends’ Uli and Virignia’s organization.) I’m excited to see his excitement, to beinited into conversation. 
It’s time for me to go to the original office for a beer with Jim. 

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