Missing Bayard Rustin

Maybe if more people knew who Bayard Rustin was, black preachers wouldn’t be as comfortable pushing anti-gay garbage on their congregations.

The NYT reports that opponents of the anti-gay-marriage initiative in California are worried that it might get buried in a wave of socially conservative African-Americans coming out to vote for Barack Obama, even though Obama himself has come out against the initiative. (Others aren’t so sure; the voting records don’t match the conventional wisdom.)

Somewhere, the spirit of Bayard Rustin is crying out in wordless agony. The political calculation &#8212 fear of gay-baiting and Red-baiting &#8212 that led his colleagues in the civil rights movement (including Martin Luther King, whom he mentored) to refuse him the credit he was due means that now, when it might be useful, Rustin’s name is not one to conjure with. But in the history of the Second Reconstruction, only King and Johnson outrank him in importance, and only Roger Wilkins, A. Philip Randolph, and Thurgood Marshall are his equals.

Biopic, anyone? Lou Gossett, Jr., as Bayard Rustin?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com