"DETERMINED TO HAVE JUSTICE NOW… UNITED AS NEVER BEFORE": RARE FIRST EDITION OF CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER BAYARD RUSTIN'S REPORT ON MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA, 1956, ACCOMPANIED BY A MARCH 1956 BROADSIDE ANNOUNCING RUSTIN'S APPEARANCE IN NEW YORK TO DELIVER HIS "FIRST-HAND REPORT" ON THE MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT
(MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT) RUSTIN, Bayard. Report on Montgomery, Alabama. WITH: (Broadside) Montgomery, Alabama. You Are Invited to Hear a First Hand Report by Bayard Rustin. New York: War Resisters League, 1956. Two works. Slim octavo, original tan self-wrappers; pp. 4; Broadside (7 by 9-inches). $3700.
First edition of one of the first published works on the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a seminal early work by Rustin, documenting key events and the beginning of his signal role as mentor to Dr. King, guiding him with "a deep understanding of nonviolent ideas and tactics," this rare copy accompanied by a March broadside headlined, "Montgomery, Alabama," announcing Rustin's appearance in New York, "having just returned from two weeks of work with leaders of the bus boycott."
"Two signature events that are often used to frame the history of the mid-20th century civil rights movement are the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955-56 and the 1963 March on Washington": uniting these was the electrifying leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the quiet yet highly consequential impact of civil rights leader Bayard Rustin (National WWII Museum). In February 1956, as New York's War Resisters League followed the work of King and the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA), they quickly "dispatched Rustin to help guide King toward nonviolence" (Los Angeles Times). It is widely acknowledged that Rustin became vital to the movement as a mentor to King, providing him "with a deep understanding of nonviolent ideas and tactics at a time when King had only an academic familiarity with Gandhi" (Stanford University). Rustin, who was also a driving force as "chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington,… described his militant activity this way: 'I believe in social dislocation and creative trouble'" (New York Times). "Few African Americans engaged in as broad a protest agenda as did Rustin… nevertheless he remained the quintessential outsider of civil rights circles. For, unlike nearly all of his peers, Rustin was gay… perhaps no other figure contributed so much to the cause of African American equality and remains so invisible to history" (Carbado and Weise, Civil Rights Identity, 1135-36).
This rare copy of Rustin's Report on Montgomery, dated in print mere months after the December 1955 start of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, is one of his earliest published writings and his first on the boycott. Issued by the War Resisters League, its introduction speaks to the unanimous decision to send Rustin to Montgomery, and states his "contribution to interpreting the Gandhian approach to leadership cannot be overestimated." Rustin, then Executive Secretary of the League, declares here that events in Montgomery prove the African American is "no longer is prepared to accept injustice and indignity. He is determined to have justice now… united as never before" (emphasis in original). Rustin addresses the question of "whether violence is justified in retaliation to violence," emphasizes Dr. King's emergence as a "symbol of non-violent resistance," and outlines a number of strategies "to strengthen the forces of non-violent resistance." Accompanying this exceptional copy of the Report is an original printed broadside, dated in print March 22, advertising an event sponsored by the League in New York City—featuring James Farmer, a director and co-founder of the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), and Rustin, who would deliver a "first-hand report" on Montgomery, having "just returned from two weeks of work with leaders of the bus boycott." The evening would also include songs by African American songwriter Josh White: "a brilliant musician whose vibrant guitar and rich vocals captivated audiences for decades" (Smithsonian Folkways). First edition of Report, with "Explanatory Note" on front wrapper, dated in print "March 21st, 1956"; precedes publication of Rustin's Montgomery Diary in the April 1956 issue of the League's magazine, Liberator. Not in Blockson.
Both in near-pristine condition, with mere trace of foldlines to broadside. About-fine, especially desirable together.