Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom director George C. Wolfe has another Netflix movie lined-up: Rustin, a feature from Higher Ground Productions, the production company formed by former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama. The feature will tell the story of Bayard Rustin, an American leader in social movements for civil rights, socialism, nonviolence, and gay rights.
The news comes straight from Netflix that George C. Wolfe will direct Rustin. Dustin Lance Black, who wrote Milk, is tackling the script, which has the following logline:
Rustin tells the story of charismatic, gay, civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, who overcame an onslaughts of obstacles, and altered the course of American history by organizing the 1963 march on Washington.
Here’s more info on Bayard Rustin via Wikipedia:
Rustin became the head of the AFL–CIO’s A. Philip Randolph Institute, which promoted the integration of formerly all-white unions, and promoted the unionization of African Americans. During the 1970s and 1980s, Rustin served on many humanitarian missions, such as aiding refugees from Communist Vietnam and Cambodia. At the time of his death in 1987, he was on a humanitarian mission in Haiti.
Rustin was a gay man, who had been arrested, early in his career, for engaging in public sex (in a parked car), though he was posthumously pardoned. Due to criticism over his sexuality, he usually acted as an influential adviser behind the scenes to civil-rights leaders. In the 1980s, he became a public advocate on behalf of gay causes, speaking at events as an activist and supporter of human rights.
Later in life, while still devoted to securing workers’ rights, Rustin joined other union leaders in aligning with ideological neoconservatism, and (after his death) President Ronald Reagan praised him. On November 20, 2013, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
During the Medal of Freedom ceremony, Obama said: “For decades, this great leader, often at Dr. King’s side, was denied his rightful place in history because he was openly gay. No medal can change that, but today, we honor Bayard Rustin’s memory by taking our place in his march towards true equality, no matter who we are or who we love.”
The movie comes from Higher Ground Productions, the company founded by Barack and Michelle Obama and co-run by Priya Swaminathan and Tonia Davis, along with Ada Chiaghana and Alex Pitz, that has set out to focus on “stories that embody the values the Obamas have championed throughout their lives. The projects selected are a reflection of these values and a commitment to quality storytelling.” A new slate of Higher Ground/Netflix titles was just announced last week, and Rustin wasn’t included – which indicates there could be even more Higher Ground Productions we don’t know about on the way.
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