Civil rights leader Bayard Rustin’s relentless fight for social justice will forever be embedded in the fabric of American history A new film about his life and legacy is coming to Netflix.
The project is being created under Michelle and Barack Obama’s Higher Ground production company. The film will chronicle the journey of the openly gay activist who hailed from Pennsylvania and his fight for racial justice and gay rights. Rustin, an HBCU graduate who attended both Wilberforce University and Cheney University of Pennsylvania, moved to New York to study at the City College of New York in 1937. Some of his earliest activism work was alongside A. Philip Randolph when the two fought against discriminatory practices surrounding hiring for the war. Rustin was on the frontlines fighting against the segregated public transit system and was also jailed because of his sexuality. He was instrumental in organizing the March on Washington in 1963 where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech. He served as an advisor for Dr. King during the 1950s and ‘60s.
Rustin was posthumously awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom by former President Barack Obama eight years ago. “Bayard Rustin was an unyielding activist for civil rights, dignity, and equality for all,” read a statement from Obama’s administration. “He promoted nonviolent resistance, participated in one of the first Freedom Rides, organized the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and fought tirelessly for marginalized communities at home and abroad. As an openly gay African American, Mr. Rustin stood at the intersection of several of the fights for equal rights.”
Rustin will be directed by George C. Wolfe, who served as the director for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Dustin Lance Black will serve as a writer and producer.