Colman Domingo is set to star as Bayard Rustin in the biopic Rustin. The movie is the first feature film produced by Higher Ground, Michelle and Barack Obama’s production company. First reported by The Hollywood Reporter, the film boasts a star-studded cast including Chris Rock as activist Roy Wilkins, Glynn Turman as A. Philip Randolph, and Audra McDonald as Ella Baker.
The official logline reads as follows:
“Rustin tells the story of charismatic, gay, civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, who overcame an onslaught of obstacles, and altered the course of American history by organizing the 1963 March on Washington”
The historical-based film will be directed by George C. Wolfe who also wrote the script with Dustin Lance Black. Rustin finds Bruce Cohen and Higher Ground’s Tonia Davis as producers, with Higher Ground’s Mark R. Wright and Alex G. Scott as executive producers. It is one of a handful of upcoming Higher Ground Projects coming to Netflix.
A partnership between the production company and the streaming giant resulted in multiple projects including the feature films Exit West and Satellite, and the comedic series The G Word with Adam Conover. Higher Ground released the hit 2021 Netflix film, Fatherhood, starring Kevin Hart, as well as the critically acclaimed film Worth, starring Michael Keaton, Stanley Tucci, and Amy Ryan.
Bayard Rustin was born in West Chester, Pa. in 1912 and attended the Historically Black, Wilberforce University in Ohio and Cheyney State Teachers College (now Cheney University of Pennsylvania) before he moved to New York City in the 1930s where he studied at City College of New York. He became an adviser for Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1950s.
As an activist, Rustin fought for civil rights and gay rights. He was arrested multiple times for various activities including refusing to register for the draft, protesting against the segregated public transit system in North Carolina, and a morals charge for publicly engaging in homosexual activity.
His organizational skills were key to establishing the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech on Aug. 28, 1963. He died of a ruptured appendix in 1987 at the age of 75.