Bayard Rustin and Malcolm X debated back in 1962, and it’s hard to imagine what it felt like to be there—fortunately Robert Gore reported on it for the Village Voice. Malcolm has been lionized, but Bayard Rustin is a figure we don’t hear enough about. I think his history is obscured by homophobia and an unfortunate incident of backseat passion that got Brother Rustin thrown in the pokey and had potential to embarass the leadership of the civil rights movement as a whole. There’s a great, must-see documentary about him that screens on PBS, but it might be time for a biopic to remind black folks that, no matter how you may get down behind closed doors, as Dr. Dyson might say, we are all largely in the same bag.
It’s interesting to read Gore’s account of attending the event as a pacifist, but finding himself drawn in to Malcolm’s message. I’d like to see more of this kind of thing on the web, for this is the web at it’s best. Not just a repository for pornography and celebrity gossip — although, you know, whatever — but as an easily-accessed archive of important articles.