Bayard Rustin—the civil rights leader best remembered for organizing the 1963 March on Washington—is finally getting more of the recognition that he deserved. Several colleges are screening Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin, the documentary that explores his many accomplishments and exposes why so little is reported of him in black history—because he was openly gay.
By screening the film to students, Rustin's legacy will be preserved ... and maybe some minds will be changed about gay history. "You hear the same thing every year, you hear the 'I have a dream' speech," says Arielle Clay, who co-chaired the recent two-week Martin Luther King 2007 Celebration at the University of Miami. "I felt it would be good to highlight Bayard Rustin to go outside that same box."
The film also details one little-known fact: Rustin was briefly separated from Dr. King's campaign because of a threatened sex scandal rumor between the two activists.
Unfortunately, despite significant progress in gay rights, Rustin's sexuality has kept him from being a common name in textbooks. "We don't necessarily need one particular person to stand up," Arielle Clay says. "But I feel that the African-American community has grown stagnant and that the community is not moving as far forward as we would like it to be."
Brother Outsider will also be screened tomorrow, Thursday Feb 1, as part of the "Out of the Closet and Onto the Screen" series at Ithaca College.
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