When we look back on history, most of the stories we hear about are just about the main public figures that were in the limelight at the time. Often the support staff, their families, and friends are pushed to the side. Especially, if people actively tried to remove them from the story completely. This month, Netflix is bringing one of those stories to the screen – the story of Bayard Rustin, a political activist and friend of Martin Luther King Jr – but most of all, the man who envisioned and brought the March on Washington to life.
We’ve all heard about the March on Washington, where 260000 showed up at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and demanded progress and fair legislation for everyone. It was one of the largest single-day peaceful protests in our nation’s history (only recently eclipsed by the Women’s March in 2017). But other than the size of the protest and the famous speech given by Dr. King, most people don’t know what took place before to set up the protest. Much less the man who spearheaded it.
The story of Bayard Rustin isn’t an easy one, and in 1963 for a gay Black man to be a vocal activist could have been seen as a crime on its own. Instead, he used the power targeted against him and channeled it towards his goals. Coupled with his friendship with Dr. King, he found a way to not only leverage that relationship to get the March on the calendar but also organize the whole event with a group of volunteers in just eight weeks. Truly remarkable, and yet – his story is not one that we’re ever told.
Thankfully stories like Bayards are coming to the screen finally. Yes, the progress made that day and the impactful speeches are a major part of history and should be celebrated. But so should the other men and women who made the almost impossible possible. It seems like we’re slowly entering a period in time that these stories can not only be told but also celebrated for the impact the individuals have on history.
The story is powerful, interesting, and one that is eye-opening. You may just find yourself asking just how many other untold stories have we not seen yet. Who else is in the background moving the wheel of progress that we don’t expect, or who else has history purposely tried to hide their story just because of who they love?
Rustin is currently playing in select theaters and will be on Netflix to stream on November 17th. If the interesting story doesn’t grab you, the different look back at history definitely will.
The architect of 1963’s momentous March on Washington, Bayard Rustin was one of the greatest activists and organizers the world has ever known. He challenged authority, never apologized for who he was, what he believed, or who he desired. And he did not back down. He made history, and in turn, he was forgotten. Directed by DGA Award and five-time Tony Award winner George C. Wolfe and starring Emmy Award winner Colman Domingo, 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. Produced by Academy Award winner Bruce Cohen, Higher Ground’s Tonia Davis and George C. Wolfe, the film features an all-star cast including Chris Rock, Glynn Turman, Aml Ameen, Gus Halper, CCH Pounder, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Johnny Ramey, Michael Potts, with Jeffrey Wright and Audra McDonald.