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Obama part of new edition of Rustin's writings
Time on Two Crosses: The Collected Writings of Bayard Rustin
by Lauren E. Childers
2015-01-21

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Barack Obama and Barney Frank add their words of wisdom to the new edition of Bayard Rustin's Time on Two Crosses: The Collected Writings of Bayard Rustin with a foreword and afterword, respectively. Frank is known for being the first openly gay Congressman; also, he married his partner in his last year in office.

"Bayard would be very proud to be associated with [them]," said Walter Naegle. "He would be delighted." Naegle was Rustin's partner of 10 years and continues to promote Rustin's legacy. He has also been asked to contribute a piece of writing to reintroduce the book which will be included in the final print publication. The preliminary publication is currently available as an ebook.

"It's certainly a worthwhile collection and I'm happy to be associated with it," said Naegle.

Rustin is known for organizing many of the major events of the civil-rights movements, including the March on Washington. He worked closely alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., and was also was unapologetically out as gay throughout his activism in an intensely homophobic society. Rustin is also known and well-respected for his methods of nonviolent resistance.

Two years in the making, this book project was created to honor Rustin and his contributions in light of current affairs. In 2013 we celebrated both the 50-year anniversary of the March on Washington and Barack Obama posthumously awarded Rustin the Presidential Medal of Honor November 20, 2013; Naegle was selected to receive the award.

"One year later, the nation witnesses public protests that highlight the lack of society equality and reveal how tensions of class and race are far from settled," said Cleis Press, which publishes Time on Two Crosses, in a statement.

Frank's afterward expresses the power of knowing a man like Rustin and his great respect for a man who faced numerous adversities, yet remained nonviolent in his activism.

Obama's foreword reflects his sentiment voiced in Rustin's award speech for the Medal of Honor—acknowledging and commending Rustin for his fight at the intersection of several fights for civil rights.

Now, a year later, a series of protests have erupted following the Ferguson decision which the publishers hope to impart a "timely message of nonviolent and peaceful protest," with the ebook rushed to publication in Dec. 2014. Cleis Press sought out Rustin's publication, Time on Two Crosses, finding it particularly poignant on this issue.

"[Bayard] would want [activists] to be very strategic—to really think about they want to do and the kind of society they want to create," articulated Naegle.

"He would be happy that people are protesting what they see as injustice," Naegle said. "It's fine to go out and protest something but you also need to have a sense of what do you want to replace that with…"

Naegle continued by highlighting how Rustin's philosophy and tactics are relevant today:

"I think what the protests have succeeded in doing is raising awareness to, what I would say, are some heavy-handed tactics on the part of some police forces in the country.

"I think if he were to make any recommendations—the police are a service that are hired to protect—and so it makes sense for the people who are patrolling and working in the community to be from that community. He would be a strong advocate of having police work in the community in which they live."

Naegle voiced his hopes for the book: "Here we are 12 years after the first edition of Time on Two Crosses and in those 12 years you have a whole new generation of young activists going to college and getting out there, trying to figure out how to improve society. I hope that this book will give them some tools to use and some ideas about strategies and tactics."

As more gender and sexuality studies courses are started throughout the nation, Rustin's legacy continues to be uncovered and touch the lives of youth.

"So I hope that it will be a toolbox and an inspiration for those people," affirmed Naegle.


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