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Panel addresses Bayard Rustin's life and legacy
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2015-04-28

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Openly gay Pastor Jamie Frazier of the Lighthouse Church of Chicago; Kim Hunt, Affinity Community Services executive director and Timuel Black, Chicago historian and one of Rustin's mentors discussed "Bayard Rustin: Celebrating His Time on Two Crosses" April 25 at University Church Chicago.

Jason Carson Wilson, founder of the Bayard Rustin Society, provided words of welcome and served as the moderator of the panel discussion.

When asked about how intersectionality affected Rustin's view of the world and approach to social justice work, Hunt said that Rustin brought his whole self to his work and didn't downplay any parts of his life.

Frazier noted that Rustin's personal narrative gave him a perspective about intersectionality that others in the Civil Rights movement didn't have. Of intersectionality in general Frazier said, "Sometimes it starts it starts with you and then you can reach out to others."

As for what Rustin would say to LGBT groups today, Black said Rustin would be reaching out to the leadership of each of these organizations.

Frazier noted that there are three things one needs to think about; the personal ( within ), interpersonal ( within the LGBT community ) and instructional ( where intersectionality comes into play ).

Hunt explained that there is a need to make linkages across the globe. She also said that Rustin would be on the front lines regarding tactical strategies relating to social media.

With regard to the lessons that one can learn from Rustin that can be applied today, Black said that Rustin's ability to be inclusive of everyone is a reminder of what can be achieved if people work together for a common cause.

Frazier noted that Rustin talked about the people who are the most marginalized in society and the way society treats them as a barometer of where we are as a society.

Hunt explained that Rustin lived his truth and forced everyone around him to live their truth. She said she is glad that history is finally acknowledging him and mentioned his plaque on The Legacy Walk on Halsted Street.

Wilson asked the panelists how much their faith journey has impacted their social justice work.

Frazier noted he is actively engaged in the liberation of the oppressed while Hunt said she has faith that eventually everything will work out and is confident that she's done the right things in life.

During the Q&A session, the panel was asked about the best ways to get out the word about Rustin and his work.

Hunt mentioned the fact that Rustin was a singer so bringing culture into the mix will help spread the word about him. She also said that it's important to let young people lead so they are invested in what happened before them.

Frazier brought up the idea of producing two or three minute shorts about LGBT African-Americans as a way to get young people involved in knowing about Rustin and others.

Black said it is important to personalize the movement for young people and noted that face to face communication is vital especially in this technological age.

The day's events also featured a keynote address by Walter Naegle, the late Bayard Rustin's partner and a screening of "Brother Outsider"—a documentary about Rustin's life.

The Bayard Rustin Society at Chicago Theological Seminary, University Church Chicago, Chicago Metropolitan Association of UCC and Affinity Community Services were the sponsors of the event.

See www.facebook.com/BayardRustinSociety for more information.


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