Interview with Bayard Rustin
QUESTION 59
INTERVIEWER:

THE QUESTION—REALLY, FINAL, KIND OF WRAP THIS UP—IS THE STRATEGY. WHO MADE THE STRATEGY FOR THE MOVEMENT? WAS IT ACCIDENTAL, RANDOM? OR WAS IT A CONSCIOUS DECISION TO SELL CONGRESS THIS DAY AND THE WHITE HOUSE THE NEXT AND FREEDOM RIGHTS THE NEXT?

Bayard Rustin:

Well, the strategy was essentially made by an eleven-man committee around Martin Luther King, on the one hand, and the NAACP on the other, who fitted the strategy into the core decisions they were getting. People often forget that at the lowest point of Montgomery, when Martin Luther King was sitting in court, in connection with the Montgomery protests, it was a young man who ran into the court room and told Martin Luther King, that the NAACP had just gotten a decision from the Supreme Court. So that the walking in the streets, on park, and Larry Wilkins, continuing to be in a court, dovetailed. But there was third, forgotten strategy. And that was that the brutality of the South did more to help our cause than anything else. It was when the great majority of Americans saw the cattle prod, and the bombing of the churches, and the blowing up of homes. So that corner also played a role in the strategy. And that is always the case, there is never one single thing going on. Also while it does not seem to many people clear, it seems to me that even a presence of Rap Brown and Stokely were in their own way creative, because one of the reasons that people would send so much money to Martin Luther King, because he was nonviolent, was that they were scared of Stokely and Rap. So that Stokely and Rap played a part of the strategy. So things do not happen because somebody sits at a desk and maps it. It happens because something starts and then all kinds of forces come to play upon it.