Rustin (2023)

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Swithin
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Rustin (2023)

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Rustin (2023)

"The day I was born Black I was also born homosexual." -- Coleman Domingo as Bayard Rustin in Rustin

Rustin is an important film and calls attention to a giant of the Civil Rights movement who was forced to give up leadership roles and recognition because of prejudice towards his homosexuality. The inspiration for and organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Had a Dream" speech, Rustin was called by Sen. Strom Thurmond a "communist, draft dodger, and homosexual."

The movie, which is fairly traditionally (and sometimes awkwardly) directed by theater director George C. Wolfe, depicts the activist as he struggles to gain acceptance for his ideas in a milieu which is fraught with homophobia, including from Black leaders such as Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., who is (as he should be) negatively depicted; and more mainstream figures such as Roy Wilkins of the NAACP, who is simply too cautious (and perhaps jealous) of Rustin's brilliance, though both men come around by the end.

Colman Domingo is terrific in the lead role. Many of the other actors are excellent, particularly Glynn Turman as A. Philip Randolph. Chris Rock is not quite right for Roy Wilkins. Martin Luther King, Jr. is played by Ami Ameen, who is good, but not quite as inspirational as one would expect of Dr. King. There are even accusations, made by racists and homophobes early in the film, that Rustin and King were having an affair.

I remember Bayard Rustin on television, as an older, graying man, but I was not quite aware of his monumental importance to the Civil Rights movement. This film goes a long way to giving Rustin the credit that he has been denied, largely because he was queer. And the film does not shy away from delving into Rustin's gay relationships, with White and Black men.

Barack and Michelle Obama are among the film's Executive Producers.

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