Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bayard Rustin and Reading Days

We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers. -Bayard Rustin.

We are entering Reading Days, which come before Finals, except that I don't believe in giving final exams for religious studies courses. I require a final research paper (on which the students have been working for weeks, in stages) and after that's all done, a final reflection paper so people can think about their learning experience of the past few months.

These are Reading Days for me too, and for others on the faculty, since I have to read all those student papers, plus the three last senior theses which the little darlings are "defending" tomorrow afternoon.

But tonight and tomorrow night I have final meetings of my evening classes* and in addition to handing out evaluations (required here in U.S. colleges and universities so students can --anonymously-- evaluate the course and the instructor, and yes, it counts toward tenure) and having a short discussion of one piece of reading, I am showing a movie.

* really class, this semester I had two sections of the same course, first time that has ever happened, so I teach the same course twice -- and the dynamics couldn't be more different, but more on that some other time.

I had scheduled the movie for a few weeks ago when it fit into the syllabus sequence, but someone (a faculty member whose name I am not allowed to know) did not return the DVD to the library. I had reserved it three months ago, too, AND my teaching assistant had contacted the library to remind them ten days before the class. Long story short, the library rush-0rdered a new copy of the DVD and it arrived before the end of term, hallelujah thank you Jesus, so I am showing "Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin" and if you have not seen it, you must must must.

Don't know who Bayard Rustin was? Have a look here.

Remember the March on Washington? The 1963 one with MLK, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech? Rustin organized it. The whole thing.

He has many other claims to fame, too. A remarkable man in the 20th century.

He was, by the way, an out gay man in a fiercely homophobic era. Which is part of why we don't read about him in the history books.

Bayard Rustin, ¡Presente!


Fran said...

This is someone I do not know about - and I need to. Thank you.

Angelic troublemaking is my specialty; you can ask my pastor should you ever meet him!

I wish you and your students well these days ahead, with all this work and then winding down of another academic year.

pj said...

Good grief! I knew the name, but I knew nothing about him. What a thoroughly beautiful, amazing person. I'm glad I stopped by!

Good luck with all your work. Oy.

johnieb said...

I learned of Rustin as a powerful "behind the scenes" leader at about the time of the March, but only learned the why of "behind the scenes" much later. It appears he is receiving due honor at last.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

I want to be an angelic troublemaker!!

Oh, wait...I've got that little issue of Wormwood to deal with. Sigh.

Diane M. Roth said...

Wow, it's a sin we don't know much about him...I'm about to rectify that right now.

Suzy said...

Hi. I came over via FranIAm. I am so glad that more people are discovering Bayard Rustin. There were many engines driving the Civil Rights Movement, but he was certainly an important one, who deserves to be recognized for his contributions.

Ann said...

Knew about him but thanks for bringing him to mind again