Interview with Bayard Rustin
QUESTION 50
INTERVIEWER:

WHEN MARTIN LUTHER KING HIT BIRMINGHAM AFTER THE DEATH OF THE FOUR GIRLS, MADE A SPEECH AND IT WAS REALLY A SELF-INDICTING SPEECH ABOUT [unintelligible]. IT WAS STRANGE, EVEN DURING THE MOMENT, IT WAS KIND OF A STRANGE SPEECH. JOHN HENRIK CLARKE WROTE A STORY AND CALLS IT ALMOST AN OBSCENE MOMENT WHEN HE SAID, ONCE AGAIN WE HAVE TO BE NONVIOLENT EVEN WHEN THIS IS—THIS TRAVESTY [ IS ] OCCURRED. THAT STRAIN OF NONVIOLENCE AS A PHILOSOPHY AND AS A TACTIC: WERE YOU INVOLVED THEN IN DISCUSSIONS TO GET—

Bayard Rustin:

Yes. I agreed thoroughly with Martin at that point, and of course as you know, the strains got deeper and deeper and deeper, until [unintelligible] and Stokely [Carmichael] and others came out for "black power," and "black is beautiful" and all of that. And many of them wanted to do away of the nonviolence of the struggle. My only view there is that we could not have made the progress we made if we had done what they wanted us to do. They wanted us to talk about violence, so they could destroy us. So long as we were adhering to nonviolence, they could not destroy us.