Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin

I just watched this documentary this morning. It was very well done, and it is a great place to start if you know absolutely nothing about Bayard Rustin (like me). I first learned of Rustin when I watched the documentary Out of the Past: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Rights in America.

Rustin was an incredibly brave and decent man, and I find myself asking how is it that I’ve never heard of this guy?

Here are some excerpts from the film’s website, Rustin.org:

ON RUSTIN
A master strategist and tireless activist, Bayard Rustin is best remembered as the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, one of the largest nonviolent protests ever held in the United States. He brought Gandhi’s protest techniques to the American civil rights movement, and helped mold Martin Luther King, Jr. into an international symbol of peace and nonviolence.

Despite these achievements, Rustin was silenced, threatened, arrested, beaten, imprisoned and fired from important leadership positions, largely because he was an openly gay man in a fiercely homophobic era. Five years in the making and the winner of numerous awards, BROTHER OUTSIDER presents a feature-length documentary portrait, focusing on Rustin’s activism for peace, racial equality, economic justice and human rights.

ON THE FILM
BROTHER OUTSIDER takes a multifaceted approach to the material, reflecting the complexity of Rustin’s story. This feature-length portrait unfolds both chronologically and thematically, using interviews and traditional documentary techniques, as well as experimental approaches. The work of Marlon Riggs and the pastiche quality of his groundbreaking documentaries have inspired the production team. The historical aspects of the piece are based on meticulous primary research in the Rustin papers and other archives, and will incorporate elements such as archival footage, stills, posters and broadsheets, government propaganda films, paintings, and other cultural artifacts.

Here is an excerpt:

Tags: African-Americans, American history, Bayard Rustin, GLBT, Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights, gay, homosexual

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Replies to This Discussion

But of course, the reason why we never heard about him before, is because he was a gay black man.

Yeah, in my heart I felt knew that was the reason. Two strikes against him. Three if you count the fact that he was once a member of the communist party. Of course, my question was somewhat rhetorical, as I knew the answer. :(

You should have no difficulty finding stuff on him online. I didn't post any links, but I found quite a few sites when I searched his name. Thanks for reading. :)
I'm not in that group, but I did intend to post a comment/link to this post in the gay group and the Amnesty Int. group, too.
But of course, the reason why we never heard about him before, is because he was a gay black man.

For the same reason, everyone knows who Rosa Parks is, while Claudette Colvin has faded into obscurity. However good your cause is, it seems you can't advance it without 'reputability'.
Thanks Jaume. I've never heard of her either. I peaked at the entry, but will read it more fully as time permits. I can't find any documentaries on her, but there is a book: Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice.
Thank you for this, Dallas.
If you haven't heard of Rustin before, the fault is yours, or perhaps your age. Rustin is not an obscure figure. He is, or was, quite famous. What happens, I suppose, is that living in an ahistorical country means you don't know anything about a time period you haven't lived through personally, except for a few icons. You've heard of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, I suppose, but who else do you know about?
Stokely Carmichael. Ralph Abernathy. Nina Simone. Jesse Jackson. Elizabeth Jennings (a Rosa Parks precursor). [edit: and Angela Davis, of course]. Hmmm, that's all I can think of at the moment. I know that Muhammad Ali was first named Cassius Clay after a famous activist and abolitionist, but I'm not sure this guy was black.

And there's Toussaint L'ouverture, of course. But did any of you folks hear about the Black Mozart fascinating story?
Now the Black Mozart is new to me. Education never ends.
It seems this guy was supremely gifted in every possible way and excelled in everything he did. You'd only expect this from a male lead in an Hollywood blockbuster.
the Black Mozart

Shit like this is so aggrevating. We all know full well he was overlooked in the history books because of his race. How many people have missed out on his contributions becasue of this? Ughhh!

Here is a film on him: Le Mozart Noir.

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