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In 2014 RSEJ in consultation with NEYM Publications Committee became involved with the Book Project. The 1st year (2014) we sent a copy of Fit For Freedom, Not for Friendship authored by Donna McDaniels and Vanessa July to every meeting in NEYM. (It was reviewd by the Daily Kos here.)
In 2015 we sent out to every Meeting Black Fire: African American Quakers on Spirituality and Human Rights edited by Hal Weaver, Paul Kriese and Stephen W. Angell. Both of these included an offer and resources for an author visit to whatever Meeting requested.
In 2016-17 we sent out to every Meeting Bayard Rustin: The Invisible Activist published by Jonathan Vogel-Borne. This included the following letter offering and resources and visit to whatever Meeting requested.
January 11, 2018
New England Yearly Meeting 901 Pleasant Street Worcester, MA 01602
I am incredibly grateful to the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends and in particular Rachel Carey-Harper for supporting my work and sharing my book, Mashpee Nine: A Story of Cultural Justice.
As you may be aware this book is a companion to a powerful 55 minute documentary film about racial injustice and law enforcement abuse of power in the Mashpee Wampanoag community more than 40 years ago. The incident in which an army of police armed in SWAT gear ambushed a group of Wampanoag men who had been drumming and singing resulting in the brutal arrest of nine was met with outrage by the tribe, choosing to fight the charges in a court of law. Friends will recognize themselves in the pages of this book as a loyal group of Cape Cod Quakers is recalled among the supporters who attended every hearing during the trial.
Their presence in the court and the ongoing support of Friends for the Mashpee Wampanoag community and our causes is what led me to my own personal association to Sandwich Quaker Meeting.
As the film producer and author of this book, the producer of the traveling exhibit “Our”Story: 400 Years of Wampanoag History, and an independent scholar of Wampanoag history I have been invited to speak at various venues including churches, colleges and universities. Most recently I was asked to address a conference of educators in Seville, Spain on the critical backstory to colonization and specifically the impact of Manifest Destiny fueled by the Doctrine of Discovery.
As history is rarely told from an indigenous perspective I am proud and honored to serve in that capacity when ever I am invited to do so. Please feel free to be in touch to discuss fees and dates of availability should you be inclined to book a speaking engagement.
I am so pleased that New England Yearly Meeting’s Racial Social and Economic Justice Committee is sending Bayard Rustin: The Invisible Activist (2014 QuakerPress of Friends General Conference) to every local meeting in New England. The book’s promotional announcement only hints at the reason why Bayard was the “invisible" activist, noting:
To many, the civil rights movement brings to mind protests, marches, boycotts, and freedom rides. They often think of people like Martin Luther King, Jr. or Rosa Parks. They seldom think of Bayard Rustin.
Bayard was made invisible, and largely ignored by historians of the period, for being an out, gay man.
In the late summer of 2014, Friends General Conference asked me to fill in as manager for QuakerPress, and, in that capacity, one of my life’s great honors was to become the book's publisher. In May 2015, I organized a 10-day author's tour, traveling from Boston to Washington—presenting at bookstores, Quaker meetings, and schools—with two of the three authors: Walter Nagle, Bayard’s partner of ten years, and Jacqueline Jaeger Houtman, a children’s book author, who is also a member of Madison (WI) Monthly Meeting. The third author, Michael Long is a professor of religion at Elizbethtown (PA) College, and a Bayard Rustin scholar.
Bayard was a troublemaker for justice, urging other "angelic troublemakers” to rise up everywhere—people who can disrupt the status quo and move us towards a society based firmly on justice, equality and love. As the author’s highlight, this troublemaking came in part from Bayard's Quaker background:
Raised by his Quaker grandmother to believe in the value of every human being, Bayard made trouble wherever he saw injustice. As a teenager, he was arrested for sitting in the whites only section of a theater. More arrests followed, for protesting against segregation, discrimination, and war. His belief in nonviolent action as a means for social change gave him a guiding vision for the civil rights movement, which he used to mentor the young Martin Luther King, Jr. When A. Philip Randolph needed the best organizer on the planet, he turned to Bayard Rustin to bring 250,000 people to the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The book is written to introduce Bayard to a new generation of children, ages ten and up. His ideas and actions will inspire today’s young (and not-so-young) readers to be angelic troublemakers.
I know you too will find inspiration in Bayard’s life story. I hope it will empower, inform, and enrich your own angelic troublemaking!
With abundant blessing,
Jonathan Vogel-Borne -- Cambridge, Massachusetts