Rustin fact check: J. Edgar Hoover rumors Martin Luther King
Netflix biopic "Rustin" chronicles Bayard Rustin's efforts to organize the 1963 March on Washington, now streaming. Barack Obama produces.
Netflix's biopic "Rustin" (now streaming) finally brings to light the story of Bayard Rustin, an unsung hero of the civil rights movement. The movie chronicles his efforts to help organize the 1963 March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech. Colman Domingo stars as Rustin, a Black gay activist who was a top aide to King and preached nonviolent protest.
The film also delves into Rustin's close friendship with Dr. King and the challenges he faced due to his sexuality. J. Edgar Hoover's obsession with Rustin's personal life, including his 1953 arrest for having sex with two men, is highlighted in the movie. The emotional climax of the film shows King and other march organizers publicly vouching for Rustin's character, which reflects the true timing of events leading up to the March on Washington.
In addition to his tireless efforts as a community organizer, the movie explores Rustin's romantic relationships with fellow activist Tom Kahn and a fictional character, Elias Taylor. The film also shines a light on female civil rights leaders such as Ella Baker and Dr. Anna Hedgeman, highlighting their important roles in the movement.
The movie also features an impressive dramatic turn by comedian Roy Wilkins, who routinely butts heads with Rustin in the film. In real life, Wilkins worried about associating with Rustin because of his sexuality and his past ties to the Young Communist League.
"Rustin" also touches on the fact that he was an accomplished singer and instrumentalist who recorded several albums and briefly appeared on Broadway.
The film is a powerful tribute to a remarkable figure in the civil rights movement and highlights the importance of acknowledging the contributions of all individuals, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. It brings to light the complexities and challenges faced by activists like Rustin, shedding light on a lesser-known aspect of history.