Speaker Series talk to explore civil rights advocate Bayard Rustin tonight
In celebration of Black History Month, Carlos Figueroa of Ithaca College will explore politics at the confluence of race, religion, sexuality, and policy development.
He will speak about his latest book with a talk titled “Bayard Rustin: Black Gay Quaker Thinker and Civil Rights & Labor Activist,” at 7 p.m. Monday, February 15, in the Prairie Room of the Bone Student Center.
Figueroa’s talk will be held in conjunction with The Legacy Wall exhibit at Milner Library. The traveling exhibit features “mini-biographies” of lesbian, gay, bisexual (LGBT), and transgender people, and aims to raise awareness of the roles LGBT people have played in shared human history.
The author of the upcoming Quakers, Race and Empire: Political Ecumenism and U.S. Insular Policy Rhetoric, 1898–1917, Figueroa will explore Rustin’s Quaker sensibilities, and how his reliance on Quaker principles–peace, equality, integrity, simplicity, community, and truth–informed his nonviolent protest, and later the coalition building during the black freedom and equality struggles of the 1950s-1960s.
“The way in which Rustin planned, organized, and facilitated important events through his Quakerism provides us with an opportunity to reconsider models for dealing with racial, social, and economic injustices across U.S. cities, including some college campuses today,” said Figueroa, an assistant professor of politics.
Figueroa holds a dual Ph.D. in political science and historical studies from The New School for Social Research. He studied politics, history, and literature abroad at Wroxton College in Oxfordshire, England, and democracy and diversity at the Transregional Center for Democratic Studies.
He has also engaged in working class politics, labor organizing/collective bargaining, and urban activism since the early 1990s, which inform his broader social justice-oriented intellectual, research, and teaching work.
The talk is sponsored by Illinois State’s Department of History and the Office of the President. The exhibit is sponsored by the Office of the President and Milner Library.
The President’s Speaker Series seeks to bring innovative and enlightening speakers to the campus with the aim of providing the community with a platform to foster dialogue, cultivate enriching ideas, and continue an appreciation of learning as an active and lifelong process. All talks are free and open to the public.