Bayard Rustin Sings Lute Songs

Last week I was reading in Josh White: Society Blues about the vocal group, the Carolinians, that White formed around the time of Harlem Blues. I did a double-take when I read the names of the members: Josh’s brother Bill White, Carrington Lewis, Sam Gary, and Bayard Rustin.

Could this be the same Bayard Rustin who organized the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and followed the “I Have a Dream” speech by reading a list of demands? Yes, it could, and it was; thus opened another rabbit hole within the existing one, resulting in my spending a big chunk of this morning watching a documentary about Rustin called Brother Outsider. What did I learn?

  • After his stint with the Carolinians Rustin began to focus more on activism (though he continued to make music throughout his life). His relationship with Martin Luther King was, at least initially, that of an “older brother” — it was he who taught Dr. King the practical aspects of nonviolent protest.