Testimony to the New York City Council Hearing on Resolution 0976 – 2019 and INT 1621 – 2019,
January 28, 2019.
Dear Esteemed New York City Council,
I am writing in memory of my late partner, Bayard Rustin, to urge the NY City Council to pass Res. 0976 and INT. 1621 in support of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and divestment from the nuclear industry.
Bayard, a long-time New Yorker, is mainly known as a civil rights activist and the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. He had a long history of involvement with a variety of social justice issues including economic justice, immigrant and refugee affairs, and LGBT rights. During the Koch administration he testified twice before the New York City Council in support of laws protecting the LGBT community.
His work against militarism and atomic/nuclear weapons began in the 1940s with the American Friends Service Committee. He traveled the country speaking out against militarism and the dangers of the arms race. Learning of the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he reflected on the threat that such awesome power posed to human survival.
In the late 1950s he was arrested not far from these chambers when he refused to take shelter during an air raid drill. Joining Dorothy Day and other peace activists, he remained in City Hall Park during a time of mandatory evacuation to underground shelters.
Working with the British Committee for Nonviolent Action, he helped organize a delegation to travel to the Algerian Sahara to protest French testing of an atomic bomb in 1959. He marched with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament from London to Aldermaston, England, after addressing a crowd at Trafalgar Square.
In 1964 he spoke here at an anti-Vietnam War rally here on the anniversary of the destruction of Hiroshima.
Were he with us today, I know he would be here urging the NY City Council to move forward on these initiatives.