August 29, 2017
Tomorrow and Thursday, Aug. 30 and 31, the College of Arts & Humanities is screening the documentary Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin. The film interweaves Rustin's personal and political lives for a portrait of this invisible icon in the civil rights movement, his life and accomplishments nearly erased from history because of his politics – and because he was openly gay.
Rustin, born here in West Chester to a Quaker family, was a charismatic civil rights activist and the architect of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. He was a mentor to King, a brilliant strategist in non-violent protest, and in later life, a proponent of international human rights. He was also involved in politics, and was co-chair of the landmark 1972 Socialist Party of America Convention, during which the organization became Social Democrats, USA.
Late August is ideal for reflecting on Rustin's life and the civil rights movement: Rustin died 30 years ago, on Aug. 24, 1987, and the March on Washington was on Aug. 28, 1963.
Brother Outsider, released in 2003, has won many awards, among them a 2003 Cine Golden Eagle, a 2004 American Library Association Notable Video Award, and the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Documentary.
In their review of the film, Time magazine said of Rustin, "In the struggle for African American dignity, he was perhaps the most critical figure that many people have never heard of. It's worth taking a look at the life and lessons of one Bayard Rustin."
The film will be shown from 7 to 9 p.m. on both Wednesday, Aug. 30, and Thursday, Aug, 31, in Sykes Student Union Theater. It is free and open to the public.