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Dear Alveda King, your lie about Bayard Rustin will not go unanswered

Friday, May 25, 2012
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Dear Ms. Alveda King,

I have watched your “career” as an “activist” and a “leader” over the years with a mixture of amusement and annoyance. I was amused as to how you were suddenly anointed as a voice for the black community simply because you are Martin Luther King, Jr’s niece.

And I was a bit annoyed at your nasty attack on Coretta Scott King two years ago when you implied that you knew MLK’s heart better than her because you “had his DNA and she didn’t.”

Alveda King

However, your recent comments have led me to a state that goes beyond annoyance. Comments you made about the late Bayard Rustin make it necessary that I call you out for your blatant dishonesty.

You said:

“The 21st century homosexual lobby likes to point to the professional relationship between my uncle Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bayard Rustin, his openly homosexual staffer who left the movement at the height of the campaign. Rustin attempted to convince Uncle M. L. that homosexual rights were equal with civil rights. Uncle M. L. did not agree, and would not attach the homosexual agenda to the 20th century civil rights struggles. So Mr. Rustin resigned.

I would like to know where you received your information concerning this claim and until you show this information, I feel safe in calling you out as a boldfaced liar.

According to several sources, most specifically the excellent book “Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin,” by John D’Emilio, Rustin resigned because prominent black leaders, specifically the late Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, had gotten jealous of King’s influence and were going to accuse him and the openly gay Rustin of being lovers.

It was some of these same leaders who did not want Rustin to have anything to do with the 1963 March on Washington, but labor leader A. Philip Randolph insisted that Rustin be involved. And as you SHOULD know, this was a good move because Rustin was the architect of that successful march.

Bayard Rustin, circa 1963

Furthermore Rustin began speaking about gay issues in the 1980s at the behest of his partner, Walter Naegle. This was over two decades after MLK’s death.

Ms. King, you like to talk about the so-called sin of homosexuality, but let me remind you that the Bible also says something against bearing false witness.

And between me and you, from one African-American to another, I would personally like to know just what constitutes you as a genuine leader in the black community?

To my knowledge, no one has taken the initiative to ask you that question, so I would like to. Do you really think that your relationship to one of the greatest American leaders of the 20th century makes you a leader?

I don’t think so. On my father’s side of my family, I am a distant cousin to the rapper Lil Bow Wow, but at no time have I rushed to a record company demanding a contract.

Ms. King, it takes more than familial connections to make one a leader. Allow me to school you on the qualities.

A leader sacrifices for others.

A leader does not seek the spotlight.

A leader works his or her fingers to the bone for a cause.

A leader inspires others.

A leader puts him or herself on the line more than once even though success of the cause may not be assured.

Bayard Rustin had all of these qualities. You have none of them. Ever since you have shown your face in the public arena, the only person you seemed to have cared about is yourself. You inspire no one. You do the least amount of work. And worst of all, none of your fame comes from anything you have done, but only due to the fact that you had the good fortune to be related to Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you didn’t have this familial relation, no one would care about anything you say.

So please stop lying to yourself as to your status and your impact. You have neither.

And while I detest how you are reaping the benefits of your uncle’s hard work, I have nothing to do with it.

BUT I will be damned if I say nothing while you besmirch the name of a man whose hard work put you in your pseudo-prominent situation.

Bayard Rustin was a leader in every sense of the word.

You aren’t. And while you may have King’s DNA, you are sorely lacking in his integrity or love.

You go and make your money, now.

Consider yourself checked and dismissed.

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