My thesis project examines Bayard Rustin, perhaps most notable for serving as the deputy director of the 1963 March on Washington. Yet, he led a lifelong commitment to civil and human rights in America and abroad. A pacifist, Rustin modeled nonviolent action (as a reflection of his belief in Gandhian principle) as a means to bring about social change. Raised by his Quaker grandmother, Rustin went on to become a Friend* himself. Scholarly discourse regards Rustin primarily for his Civil Rights era contributions, leaving his lifelong career largely unexamined. That is, aside from biographical texts and collections of his writings. I remain interested in how his Quaker background influenced his commitment to and actions toward social justice in America and abroad.
Having poured through the seminal and subsequent Rustin biographies, I decided that I would take advantage of my prime location in the Philadelphia region to travel to Washington D.C., where the Library of Congress holds the Bayard Rustin papers, a vast collection of Rustin’s speeches, letters, memos, photographs, and other materials. The first half of this blog post I wrote while in the Madison Reading Room. Now, I write to you from Union Station’s Starbucks (with the bar seating, that is!) where I have begun chugging a dirty vanilla chai to renew a bit of my energy.
To recap, I departed Tritton Hall, where I live on campus this year, at 6:30am. Before heading to the Haverford train station an 8 minute walk away (if you’re speed walking), I swung by Bruegger’s bagels to devour a rosemary olive oil bagel. A DC (Dining Center) banana proved to be a nice snack on the 20-minute train ride to 30th street station where I quickly made my way to the MegaBus departure location. The 3-hour bus ride was the perfect time to read a short story (and watch its film adaptation) for my Japanese Literature and Film course before taking a half-hour nap. Surprisingly, Google Maps led me in the appropriate direction to the Library of Congress building, at which point I went on a wild goose chase to receive researcher authorization from several bureaucratic centers. In the end, I was able to spend 4.5 solid hours in the reading room with a cornucopia of Rustin papers, some of which will be invaluable to the future of my thesis.
Now an hour away from Philadelphia, I think I’ll make this post final. Here’s a photograph I captured of Union Station as I made my way back from the Library of Congress. How nice the 58 degree weather (F) was!