On 12 September, QUNO New York Director, Sarah Clarke, delivered the Steven G. Carey Memorial lecture at the Quaker center, Pendle Hill. With over 500 Friends registering to join in person and online, Sarah spoke on ‘Strategizing for Change: Applying lessons from the Life of Bayard Rustin to Quaker Work at the UN.’
Bayard Rustin was a leader in social movements for civil rights, nonviolence and gay rights. He worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr. on the Montgomery bus boycotts of 1955-6 and the 1963 March on Washington, and for global issues such as international disarmament. He worked with the America Friends Service Committee (AFSC) where he played an important role in the writing of its influential 1955 document, ‘Speak Truth to Power,’ which advocated for a non-violent end to the Cold War.
In her discussion Sarah drew connections between the history of the struggle for civil rights in the US and the work of Quakers in the past and present. This included reflecting on the upcoming 75th anniversary of Quaker work at the United Nations (UN) and considering what lessons can be learned from Black Quaker histories as we work towards building diverse and inclusive communities for peace, within and beyond UN spaces.
When thinking of QUNO’s work today, Sarah drew out five key principles from Rustin’s life that guide Quaker engagement at the UN:
- A commitment to the principle of nonviolence.
- A focus on community voices and those otherwise unheard in political spaces.
- Internationalism and cooperation across national boundaries.
- Working for communities of belonging.
- A commitment to coalition building and working together across differences towards change.
For more information, watch the lecture here.
To read more about Bayard Rustin and African American Quakers visit here.