On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. This clergyman, this activist, this leader of the African-American civil rights movement marched alongside his black brothers and sisters, all the way to Washington and back for Jobs and Freedom.
Now we’ve all heard the stories, of that single black man to be the first to utter the words “I Had a Dream...” This man who gave his life for that dream. This man born Michael, reborn Martin in honor of the famed reverend Martin Luther who nailed his faith onto the doors of his church, a hammering so loud that we can still hear the resounding thuds against the house of God.
Years later, Martin Luther King, Jr. is pounding his fist like a hammer against the walls of the White House, hoping someone will hear his dream. He has continued to pound his fist, fighting toward the hearts and souls of men until the day he died. That day, a gunshot stole the breath from his brothers and sisters before he fell for his dream, a dream “where all men are created equal.”
Though we may have forgotten, others have fallen. Long before Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed in his sleep and spoke through our ears and into our hearts, a brother outsider would sit-in to fight against racial injustice.
Bayard Rustin fought for his black brother, but fell for his love of men; he fought for the love of God, but fell for his left-winged spirit of the Red Scare. And despite the sinful words and the promise of “going to hell, you Communist faggot,” he helped his family as best he could and stayed in the shadows to allow them light. He’d organize and lead a revolution for his black brothers, but you would rarely have seen his face in our home, or heard his voice in our songs, because it is what his face stood for and what his voice sang for that the people feared and detested. It is what he was that made him a brother outsider.
Even then, when the black family fought for their rights, he had to fight alone. Disowned by his family, cast outside. This brother outsider was alone in his world, and he continues to fight, even today. And so it was that Bayard Rustin, a brother outsider, fell from our view and into our shadows.
But that was then, and this? This is now, today. History has torn down many buildings and many people, but today we can stand alongside our brothers and sisters, risk the gunshots, all for the sake of those who have fought and those who continue to fight. Though our reach may sometimes fall short, we can not forget to love those brothers outside.
Our siblings fight for our love and acceptance, but even the old battles have not ended. Our brothers still face hate every day; that black clergyman continues to dream, yet turns in his sleep; and that man who loves other men is still hidden in the shadows of our hate. And yes, these are just the words of an American high school student, but they echo the resounding thuds of a march on civil rights, and I will join them, promise to fight for them--no.... Promise to fight for us, this family, as best I can. After all, that’s all we can ever ask for, and all they’ve ever done.