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Quotes from Bayard Rustin


“Out of such marches might well emerge a potent political expression of the alliance I have urged— an alliance for the democratization of our political, economic and social institutions. The salvation of the Negro lies ultimately in such basic change.”

“The only power we have is the power of our black bodies, backed up by as many white bodies as will stand with us, to go into the streets and to create social confusion by sitting in the streets, by so disrupting the ability of the government to operate. I call now for an uprising, nonviolently, in 100 cities, where we will sit and stand and stand and sit and go to jail and jail again, until there are no color barriers.”

“We must march to demand the unqualified right to register and vote—we must march to demand the opportunity for decent jobs—we must march for the right to improve our wages and living standards.”

“The test of our achievement will be whether the strength and unity demonstrated by the march can be carried into future activity.”

“First, what is the dynamic idea of our time? It is the quest for human dignity expressed in many ways—self-determination, freedom from bigotry, and equality of opportunity. If we want human dignity above all else, we cannot get it while we are on our knees, we cannot get it if we are running away, we cannot get it if we are indifferent and unconcerned.”

“Continuous resistance in nonviolent form breaks through the paralyzing peace which is peace for the master and misery for the mastered. Paradoxically, as it breaks the unjust social peace, its weapon of goodwill and love builds the sacred base of real brotherhood, in which the dignity and equal opportunity of every person is sacred and guaranteed.”

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