I Must Resist
Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters
Edited by Michael G Long
The Gay & Lesbian Review
"The letters in this book, which represent only a portion of Rustin's prolific output, provide a detailed, vivid, and often surprising look into his life and mind. They reveal Rustin’s commitment to speaking the truth to power, which he encouraged in correspondence with students, citizens, and politicians, including every president from Truman to Reagan."
"Rustin... was willing to challenge orthodoxies left, right, and center. And therein lay his greatness."
—Thomas D. Hamm
"This past March, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Bayard Rustin's birth, this collection of letters to and from Rustin written over almost a half-century was released. The second letter in the book is 'Rustin to the FOR Staff,' dated September 12, 1942, when Bayard was a field secretary for the organization, and includes these words, 'In many parts of this country I have found men completely cut off from a knowledge of pacifism. This is an indication that there may well be millions of men who would be eager to follow the truth if they could but hear it. … I therefore have a deep concern when I hear many FOR people across this nation say that they feel they ought to be still at this time. I believe this is the time to say louder and more frequently than before the truth that war is wrong, stupid, wasteful, and impeding future progress and any possibilities of a just and durable peace.' It seems remarkable how applicable these sentiments of 70 years ago seem today in the midst of the Afghanistan war and the use of drones and secretive military forces in other parts of the world."
"The book provides insights into . . . important aspects of protest. The letters are an example of a political activist's tireless efforts to promote American civil rights and throw light on the struggles one has to undergo against all opposition, especially when there are ideological differences: Rustin’s strongly held views on non-violence often clashed with other Trotskyite activists who believed that change was possible only through violence. Remarkably moving in their spirit and intention, the letters symbolise dedication to a political and social purpose intended for racial justice and equality."--Shelly Walia, Frontline, India
The Rainbow Times
"Collected from over more than four decades, these letters are a reminder that one man can make a difference. . . . culled with care by editor Long, who also provides scene-setting historical and cultural annotations." -- Richard Labonte, The Rainbow Times
Philadelphia Gay News
"This collection of letters sheds light on one of the great overlooked activists of the 20th century. Each letter is prefaced by a paragraph providing context, helpful for those who don't have a deep knowledge of the events of that era. . . . His letters--some 150 are collected here chronologically--reveal an eloquent, persuasive activist, unafraid to challenge so-called authority figures when he encountered injustice."
"In I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters, editor Michael G. Long assembles an impressive narrative of Rustin's remarkable achievements, helping on this 100th anniversary of his birth to revive the complex legacy of the civil rights struggle’s hidden man." --Edward Ericson, Jr., City Paper
"In commemoration of the centennial of his birth, a new book, I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life In Letters, (edited by Michael G. Long) has just been published. It is a volume that is rich in Rustin's wisdom and highly relevant to today’s debates over issues from gay rights to affirmative action."--Richard Kahlenberg
"Despite the fact that Rustin was pivotal to the civil rights movement, including organizing the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, he is not nearly as well known as others in the movement. This collection of Rustin's letters aims to set straight the record on his enormous influence. The foreword by Julian Bond lays the groundwork with an overview of Rustin’s life and the beginnings of his lifelong resistance to social injustice. The collection of 150 letters, arranged chronologically, reflects Rustin’s resistance to racism in the U.S. and anticolonialism in India and Africa. His politics (socialism) and sexual orientation (homosexual) compelled him to stay in the background of the American civil rights movement. He was an adherent of nonviolence even as he aggressively pushed for change through protests, boycotts, marches, rallies, sit-ins, and other tactics, which sometimes put him at odds with others in the movement. Editor Long precedes each letter with historical context to reflect the state of national and world affairs from 1944 to 1987, reflecting as well Rustin’s own personal life as he writes of music, art, books, and his struggles with his sexual identity. Among his correspondents were Martin Luther King Jr., A. Philip Randolph, Ella Baker, President Eisenhower, the New York Times, and J. Edgar Hoover."— Vanessa Bush