"Own your power."
Activist Bayard Rustin faces racism and homophobia as he helps change the course of Civil Rights history by orchestrating the 1963 March on Washington.More
Activist Bayard Rustin faces racism and homophobia as he helps change the course of Civil Rights history by orchestrating the 1963 March on Washington.
Unsung heroes often don’t get their day. Fortunately, however, for civil rights activist Bayard Rustin (Colman Domingo), principal organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, he’s finally getting his due in this new biopic about the many challenges he faced in bringing this event into being. The flamboyant, outspoken, Black gay organizer faced much opposition to his proposal, including, surprisingly enough, from an African-American community that was apprehensive about the message his appointment and presence would send to a still-reluctant public in its support for equal rights measures, including such noteworthy figures as NAACP leader Roy Wilkins (Chris Rock) and Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr. (Jeffrey Wright). Things were even tense at times between Rustin and his longtime friend, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Aml Ameen), for whom Rustin once served as his chief aide and advisor. Then there was Rustin’s sexual orientation, a matter he didn’t exactly hide, especially in his less-than-discreet relationship with married preacher Elias Taylor (Johnny Ramey), something other activists feared could undo all the progress they had made up to that time. But, as a determined champion, Rustin forged ahead, despite these hardships, culminating in the largest peaceful protest ever staged in the nation’s capital. To the film’s credit, director George C. Wolfe has compiled an informative period piece biography, even if the approach is somewhat conventional and, admittedly, gets off to a rather rocky start in the first half hour. However, that’s made up for by a strong second half and the picture’s powerhouse cast, including Domingo (a strong Oscar nominee contender), Wright and Ameen, as well as Glynn Turman and CCH Pounder in fine supporting performances. While this offering may not be everything it could have been, “Rustin” nevertheless reminds us of what so many people fought so hard to achieve – and why it’s so important that we strive to protect those accomplishments against backsliding and those who might seek to undermine the fulfillment of those much-cherished attainments.
Colman Domingo is pretty good as the eponymous, gay, civil rights organiser who not only had the problems of his colour, but of his fairly open sexuality to deal with as he tries to organise a massive march to the American Capitol. The goal of the march is to keep the pressure on the Kennedy administration's promises to end segregation - but there are plenty from within his own camp who would happily do without Bayard Rustin. I knew nothing about this man, and Domingo's energetic and charismatic performance goes some way to demonstrating just how hard he worked to fight internal squabbles - largely with Chris Rock's Roy Wilkins and Jeffrey Wright's Congressman Powell - as well as raise cash, galvanise the teams securing everything from tables to buses, and deal with the Washington authorities who were never exactly co-operative. It's a personal story which doesn't shy away from his relationships with Gus Halper's Tom and latterly with a man who has rather more to be discreet about. Occasionally violent but not graphic, it's clear this was a man who was passionate about many things, even when being homosexual was almost as toxic for him as his colour! The conclusion is the stuff of American history, so we always know what happens - it's the journey of a man determined through sheer force of personality to achieve his aims that's the focus here, and I think it works rather well.
Unsung heroes often don’t get their day. Fortunately, however, for civil rights activist Bayard Rustin (Colman Domingo), principal organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, he’s finally getting his due in this new biopic about the many cha...