'Rustin' Trailer: Colman Domingo Brings March on Washington Architect Back to Life in Netflix Biopic

The Netflix biopic features an all-star cast including Chris Rock, Jeffrey Wright, and Audra McDonald, and debuts in theaters Nov. 3.

Netflix is giving the legendary life story of Bayard Rustin the film treatment.

On Monday, the streamer dropped the first look at its upcoming biopic Rustin. Directed by Tony and DGA Award winner George C. Wolfe, the Netflix film stars Emmy winner Colman Domingo as the queer Civil Rights activist who served as one of the main architects behind the August 1963 March on Washington. The teaser's debut marks the 60th anniversary of the demonstration, which is best known for culminating in Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech. 

Rustin marched alongside MLK, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., and Ella Baker, and promoted non-violent protests. As the film's teaser shows, many saw the former president of the A. Philip Randolph Institute -- a civil rights organization in New York City --  as a controversial figure of the 1960s civil rights movement, largely because he was an openly gay man during a turbulent time. 

When Rep. Adam Clayton Powell (played by Jeffrey Wright) suggests Rustin's presence at the event "could derail the fight for racial justice in this country by a good 10 to 15 years," the activist powers through to pull off the event, which the National Archives identifies as "the largest demonstration for human rights in United States history."


"A demonstration made up of angelic troublemakers such as yourselves," Domingo tells a group of young activists in the teaser. "On Aug. 28, Black, white, young, old, rich, working class, poor will descend on Washington, D.C."

Later in the trailer, Domingo's Rustin promises: "We are committed to the cause of altering the trajectory of this country towards freedom. They either believe in freedom and justice for all, or they do not."

Netflix's official synopsis reads, "The architect of 1963's momentous March on Washington, Bayard Rustin was one of the greatest activists and organizers the world has ever known. He challenged authority, never apologized for who he was, what he believed, or who he desired. And he did not back down. He made history, and in turn, he was forgotten."

Written by Julian Breece and Dustin Lance Black and produced by Academy Award winner Bruce Cohen, the star-studded Rustin cast includes Chris Rock, Jeffrey Wright, Audra McDonald, Glynn Turman, Aml Ameen, Gus Halper, CCH Pounder, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Johnny Ramey, Michael Potts, Lilli Kay, Jordan-Amanda Hall, Jakeem Powell, Grantham Coleman, Jamilah Rosemond, Jules Latimer, Maxwell Whittington-Cooper, Frank Harts, Kevin Mambo, Carra Patterson, Bill Irwin, Cotter Smith and Adrienne Warren.


Rustin is produced by Bruce Cohen and Higher Ground's Tonia Davis, with Higher Ground's Barack and Michelle Obama, Mark R. Wright, Alex G. Scott, David Permut, Daniel Sladek and Chris Taaffe serving as executive producers.

In a press statement about the film, Wolfe, who previously directed Netflix's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and the original Broadway production of Angels in America, said: "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."

Rustin premieres in select theaters on Nov. 3 and will be available to stream on Netflix on Nov. 17. 


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