Happy Birthday to Bayard Rustin, Jorge Ben, and… to Me!!! (Sunshine Superboy!)

rustin march on washington

Its Mid-March! There are a couple truly stupendous March babies* (not babies anymore!) whom we ought to pause for a moment and appreciate. Lets get to it..!

Bayard Rustin was born 100 years ago, on March 17th! He is one of the dopest organizers, not just of American History, but of the entire 20th century, the world-over (IMHO).

His most visible achievement was organizing- as deputy director of mobilization and logistics- the 1963 March on Washington (in which Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the hallowed “I have a Dream Speech”, and at which a multi-racial coalition of singers performed- from Bob Dylan, to Joan Baez, and Gospel legend Mahalia Jackson- cuz thats how he rolled!) bayard rustinIt was Bayard Rustin who visited Gandhi in India, and cross-pollinated the Sattyagraha and Nonviolent precepts, bringing them to the US south and working closely with King among others. Rustin was a quaker, a singer, a socialist, and…wait for it… unapologetically the gay! (Hooray!)

It was for this homophobia latter identity that King was counciled to throw Bayard Rustin under the bus (in the parlance of our times), which is why he has been largely written out of mainstream and much African American history.

As our culture starts to warm to the idea of gender justice and queer liberation (we’re getting there…) Rustin is slowly being woven back into narratives and history of Civil Rights organizing in the 20th century.

On the deeply regarded Bayard Rustin:

Another force of brilliance I’d like to celebrate this week is the very much alive and kicking-ass, Brazilian Samba-Rock Godfather, Jorge Ben who marks his 70th birthday on March 22nd! Jorge Ben Jorge Ben makes me smile, move, shuffle my feet, and sometimes sigh in melancholy (see “Gabriela” where he openly weeps on the recording!) with his genius fusion of samba, bossa nova, soul and rock n roll. The execution is something you just have to listen to in full to appreciate.

As with most artists who where on their A game in the 70s, there are some awkward albums and singles that followed the apogee of their songwriting, but most of his albums are slam dunks from start to finish. Perfect for cooking brunch (a favorite pastime of yours truly), doing dishes, playtime with toddlers, or drinking on your back porch in the evening. Impress your date with your refined musical taste!

His lyrics “blend humor and satire with often esoteric subject matter” including politics of Black Liberation, and post-colonial dreams for Africa (again think 60s and 70s composer here). He intersected with the Tropicalia movement of Brazil, and his song “Mas Que Nada” (song/ video below), which was his first big hit in Brazil, remains to this day ‘the most played song in the USA sung entirely in Portuguese’. I seriously heart this dude.

Enjoy the song and slide show with some rando pictures of the 1960s (??!)

oh, and I’m not that important, but I just celebrated my birthday on March 16th so I just wanted to dredge up some homies of mine who I happen to think about or listen to every day because they are badass.

You look like a Rock Star and you shred like one too!!!

(…and many more!)
Sunshine Superboy

*ps- we also welcomed some amazing babies to our spinning planet this month (and more to come!) and I wanna holler to them too (especially you baby Marlowe xoxoxo)

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3 Responses to “Happy Birthday to Bayard Rustin, Jorge Ben, and… to Me!!! (Sunshine Superboy!)”

  1. Happy belated birthday, Steve! Also, Jorge Ben rules. Can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent strutting around the city with “Africa Brasil” on my iPod.

  2. huh. turns out “Mas Que Nada” was one of five songs on the Dizzy Gillespie CD (Swing Low Sweet Cadillac) that actually got me really interested in jazz when I checked it out of the library 16 years ago, and here it pops up again, but this time woven into a deeper and richer context and pattern than my teenage brain could have even imagined. i love music and musicians. and bayard rustin. and you too, sunshine superboy. happy belated birthday!!

  3. I have a question, why was Rustin thrown out for being gay ?

    Wasn’t he more likely thrown out for being a communist ?
    or a Quaker who refused service ?

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