Watch Colman Domingo as March on Washington architect, civil rights activist & organizer Bayard Rustin in teaser trailer for Netflix’s Rustin

Marking today’s 60th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Netflix has revealed an official teaser trailer for the upcoming Bayard Rustin biopic Rustin starring Emmy-winning Euphoria actor Colman Domingo in the title role.

Michael Potts as Cleve Robinson, Aml Ameen as Martin Luther King, Chris Rock as NAACP Exec. Dir. Roy Wilkins and Glynn Turman as A Philip Randolph in Rustin. Photo credit: David Lee/Netflix © 2022.

An often overlooked civil rights activist and organizer, Rustin was the architect of 1963’s March on Washington, who worked alongside key figures in the movement such as Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., Adam Clayton Powell Jr., and Ella Baker. Directed by Tony-winner George C. Wolfe (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) and co-written by Julian Breece (When They See Us) and Oscar-winner Dustin Lance Black (Milk), the film is executive produced by Barack and Michelle Obama through Higher Ground. The cast also includes Chris Rock, Glynn Turman, Aml Ameen, Gus Halper, CCH Pounder, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Johnny Ramey, Michael Potts, Jeffrey Wright, and Audra McDonald. Grammy-winning artist Lenny Kravitz has written and recorded an original song for the film’s soundtrack, “Road To Freedom”.

RUSTIN | Official Teaser Trailer | Netflix

Here, George C Wolfe shares his thoughts on Bayard Rustin: “Having lived inside the mind, the accomplishments, and the astonishing legacy that is Bayard Rustin, casually for the past thirty years as an admirer, and intensely so for the past four, crafting a film about him, there is one event, incidental yet revelatory which fills me with unabashed joy.”

Aml Ameen as Martin Luther King and Colman Domingo as Bayard Rustin in Rustin. Photo credit: Parrish Lewis/Netflix © 2022.

“No, not the fact that he was the mastermind of the March on Washington, and together with the assistance of a group of kids in their late-teens, early-twenties, organized the largest peaceful protest the world had ever known. And not the fact that he traveled to India to study the practices and teachings of non-violence as espoused by Mahatma Gandhi, which he in-turn shared with innumerable colleagues, including his close friend and mentee, Martin Luther King Jr. And not the fact that Bayard Rustin was one of, if not the most “out” version of an out homosexual to be found walking the streets of New York City from the 1940s on, or appeared on Broadway in the chorus of John Henry, a musical of epic proportions starring Paul Robeson, which opened on January 10th, 1940, and closed five performances later.”

Glynn Turman as A Philip Randolph and Colman Domingo as Bayard Rustin in Rustin. Photo credit: David Lee/Netflix © 2022.

“No, the one event in Bayard’s life that to this day causes me to quizzically, giddily shout to myself, “You’ve got to be kidding!” is that in between fighting to save the soul of his country, he managed to find time to record an album entitled, Elizabethan Songs and Negro Spirituals, which point of fact, featured Bayard Rustin singing in that crystalline tenor of his, both Elizabethan songs and Negro spirituals.”

Colman Domingo as Bayard in Rustin. Photo credit: Parrish Lewis/Netflix © 2022.

“The reason this piece of vinyl thrills me to no end”, continues Wolfe, “is because it brilliantly captures the expansive view he had of himself and his place in the world, or should I say worlds, which existed in joyful defiance of other people’s limited view of who he was, where he belonged, and what he should desire. And it is for this reason, among a myriad of others, that Black-queer-Quaker Bayard Taylor Rustin is to my mind, the ultimate American.”

Colman Domingo as Bayard Rustin, Melissa Rakiro as Yvette, Ayana Workman as Eleanor, Jordan-Amanda Hall as Charlene, Jakeem Dante Powell as Norm in Rustin. Photo credit: David Lee/Netflix © 2022.

“My definition of being an American does not begin with amber waves of grain, nor ends with red, white and blue bunting on the Fourth, but one which has at its core, a sense of service, expansive curiosity, and caring for those in need.”

“Bayard was born in 1912, in West Chester, Pennsylvania. He was not only his high school’s valedictorian, but the West Chester Warrior’s star athlete; track, football, tennis, basketball, he did it all, and took to heart the school’s moniker, becoming a warrior on and off the field”, adds Wolfe. “Despite its legacy of being a stop on the Underground Railroad, by the time Bayard was in his mid-teens, Jim Crow-isms had firmly infiltrated West Chester County, which Bayard rabidly took on, organizing sit-ins at movie theaters, the YMCA, restaurants, informing one of his coaches that unless he and the other Black members of the team stayed in the same accommodations as their white counterparts during away games, they would not play.”

Audra McDonald as Ella Baker and Colman Domingo as Bayard Rustin. In Rustin. Photo credit: David Lee/Netflix © 2022.

“And when he was sent to prison during World War Il, for being a conscientious objector, on “moral, religious and political grounds,” after failing repeatedly to stop Bayard’s hunger strikes, endless acts of insubordination, and demands that segregation within the United States penal system be abolished, the warden’s only solution was to have Bayard transferred to another penitentiary.”

Gus Helper as Tom, CCH Pounder as Dr. Anna Hedgeman, Colman Domingo as Bayard Rustin, Melissa Rakiro as Yvette, Ayana Workman as Eleanor, Lilli Kay as Rochelle, Jordan-Amanda Hall as Charlene, Jakeem Dante Powell as Norm in Rustin. Courtesy of Netflix.

“It is this very sense of defiance, determination and heart that one feels when you hear him sing on Elizabethan Songs and Negro Spirituals; the compassion and caring in his rendition of “There Is A Balm In Gilead,” the isolation, yet strength, on “I Attempt from Love’s Sickness to Fly”.

“Back when he was playing offensive lineman for the West Chester Warriors, the story goes he would aggressively knock an opposing player to the ground, and then graciously help him to his feet. This dichotomy was equally embedded in everything he undertook, including the planning of The March.”

Colman Domingo as Bayard Rustin, Gus Halper as Tom, Lilli Kay as Rachelle, Ayana Workman as Eleanor and Jakeem Dante Powell as Norm in Rustin. Photo credit: David Lee/Netflix © 2022.

“In addition to his desire to cast an unswerving light on the legacy of segregation, which despite the passage of Brown vs. Board of Education, continued to flourish in the South, Bayard also wanted to bring people together; bring the divergent Civil Rights Organizations that were starting to fracture, together; bring the country as a whole, together.”

Rustin. Colman Domingo as Bayard Rustin in Rustin. Cr. David Lee/Netflix © 2022

“Fearless, defiant, celebratory, demanding, unrelenting, collaborative, exceedingly curious, and smarter than smart, because of all of the above, he is for me, the ultimate American; what every American should strive to be. I am grateful and forever in awe of all that he accomplished, and deeply proud, as is everyone who worked on the making of Rustin, to share his remarkable story with the world, and with you.”

Rustin will receive its International Premiere at TIFF before opening in select theaters on November 3rd and debuting globally on Netflix on November 17th, 2023.

RUSTIN | Official Teaser Trailer | Netflix
RUSTIN | Official Artwork | Netflix

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