Is Rustin based on a true story?

By Louie Fecou
Published: October 18, 2023 (Last updated: December 10, 2023)
Is Rustin based on a true story?

The 2023 Netflix biographical drama Rustin is a powerful 1960s-set period piece that follows civil rights activist Bayard Rustin. The film has an interesting backstory, including the fact that the executive producers of the movie are Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, and the performances from Colman Domingo and Chris Rock have audiences taking notice of this historical drama. However, the subject matter has people wondering about the plot, which is a true story based on real-life milestones in activism and Rustin’s personal life.

Rustin (2023) movie plot explained

Rustin is directed by George C. Wolfe and was written by Dustin Lance Black, who won an Oscar for his screenplay for 2008’s Milk starring Sean Penn. The film follows Bayard Rustin, an activist who became famous for organizing the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

In the film, Rustin promotes nonviolent strategies and protests for social change, and the march in 1963 becomes the platform for Dr Martin Luther King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.

The film covers the life of the activist, including some controversies that surround the character.

He becomes a member of the Young Communist League and serves a three-year jail sentence for being a conscientious objector, and is also arrested for lewd vagrancy.

Is Rustin based on a true story?

Yes, the film is based on the real-life exploits of Baynard Rustin. Baynard was a tireless fighter for civil justice and was incredibly influential in his role. He was considered to be a right-hand man for Dr Martin Luther King and changed the way that political activism was perceived.

Oddly, it does seem that Rustin has been sidelined in history, but the film will be able to bring some attention to this important figure.

The film was directed by George C Wolfe, and fans of stage productions will know him for directing Angels in America: Millennium Approaches on Broadway, a show that would earn him a Tony Award.

Who is playing Bayard Rustin?

Colman Domingo is playing the title character.

The American actor was born in 1969 and has had a long and prestigious career both on the screen and on the stage, receiving numerous awards and nominations.

He would appear in Law and Order and would portray Victor Strand in Fear the Walking Dead on TV. His other roles on the small screen would also include Lucifer and the Cinemax show The Knick.

His film appearances include Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, Selma, If Beale Street Could Talk, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which also starred Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis.

Future plans include an appearance as Mister in the movie musical adaptation of The Colour Purple and will also voice Batman in a scripted podcast Riddler: Secrets in the Dark.

Domingo has been married to his husband, Raúl Domingo, since 2014 and also teaches, passing on skills to students at the O’Neil National Theatre Institute and the University of Wisconsin.

RELATED: Where was Netflix’s Rustin filmed?

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