Bayard Rustin may not be as recognizable a name in the Civil Rights Movement as others, but behind the scenes, he was a powerful force. His story will be told in a new Netflix film Rustin, which premieres in theaters Nov. 3, and then heads to Netflix Nov. 17.
The trailer dropped Aug. 28, 60 years to the day of the March on Washington in 1963. Rustin was one of the architects behind the march, but his role has been diminished over time because he was homosexual.
Actor Colman Domingo, who is also gay, stars as Rustin in the movie that was produced by the Obamas’ Higher Ground Productions. It aims to show how Rustin, a civil rights activist born in West Chester, Pa., was instrumental in Dr. King’s efforts to advance racial equality.
Directed by George Wolfe (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) Rustin also stars Chris Rock, Glynn Turman, Audra McDonald, CCH Pounder and Jeffrey Wright.
From the synopsis: “Rustin shines a long overdue spotlight on the extraordinary man who, alongside giants like the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., Adam Clayton Powell Jr., and Ella Baker, dared to imagine a different world, and inspired a movement in a march toward freedom.”
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom took place on Aug. 28, 1963 and was, according to the National Archives primarily organized by Rustin, labor organizer A. Phillip Randolph and 200 volunteers in just 60 days. While accounts vary, the Archives say it is the largest demonstration for human rights in U.S. history, estimated to have been attended by at least 250,000 people. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech from the podium.
In the trailer, Domingo as Rustin is seen plotting the march on paper with a group of young people telling a skeptical-looking King, “Do this, Dr. King. Own your power.” He’s then shown organizing while being criticized for the “unmentionable” – his sexuality.
“On the day that I was born Black,” Rustin says, “I was also born homosexual.” The duration of the teaser trailer shows the march coming together and then the march itself, some of which looks as though it was recreated not culled from archival footage.
Rustin spent his lifetime as an activist, and his life and work have been previously covered in the PBS documentary Brother Outsider, which first aired in 2003. He died Aug. 24, 19,87 at the age of 75 and was praised by then-President Ronald Reagan as a champion of civil rights.
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