Black, gay Civil Rights activist Bayard Rustin is finally getting a biopic!
Legendary Black, gay Tony Award-winning stage and film director George C. Wolfe (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) is joining forces with gay Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk) for Rustin, a project about the life of Civil Rights Activist Bayard Rustin.
Netflix released a statement, Rustin “tells the story of charismatic, gay, civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, who overcame an onslaught of obstacles, and altered the course of American history by organizing the 1963 March on Washington.” The film is being produced by Dustin Lance Black, Bruce Cohen, and former president Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions.
George C. Wolfe has been creating a lot of buzz this awards season, with his latest film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, starring Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman (in his final film appearance), being nominated for numerous awards. Wolfe has been known in the theatre for decades as one of the most significant voices in Black theatre, having written and directed such productions as The Colored Museum and Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk. He has won five Tony Awards, including awards for directing Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk and Angels In America: Millennium Approaches.
Dustin Lance Black won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his film for Milk, about the life of California gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk. As a playwright, he is known for his play 8 about Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the federal case that overturned California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage. Recently, he also created ABC’s When We Rise, an eight-part miniseries about the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement in America.
Bayard Rustin was an LGBTQ and civil rights activist who is best known for being one of the most significant advisers to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, one of the biggest Civil Rights marches in history. In 2013, Rustin was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama.
One of the controversies that has surrounded Rustin was from the year 1953, when Rustin was found having sex with two men in a parked car in Pasadena, California. In early 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom finally pardoned Rustin for his 1953 arrest, which resulted in Rustin serving 50 days in Los Angeles County jail and having to register as a sex offender. In pardoning Rustin, Newsom acknowledged that LGBTQ people were usually unjustly punished for their sexuality by U.S. law enforcement at the time of Rustin’s arrest.