Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin | Chicago Reader

Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin

An eye-opening documentary (2003) by Nancy Kates and Bennett Singer about the most sophisticated and charismatic of the civil rights leaders, enhanced by insights about why he became the most neglected. A onetime singer in Josh White's quartet, the Carolinians, a communist between 1938 and '41, and a conscientious objector imprisoned during World War II, Rustin (1912-'87) helped to school Martin Luther King in pacifism—and persuaded him at an early stage not to own guns. Ultimately Rustin was driven to the margins of the movement for being outspokenly gay and refusing (on tactical grounds) to oppose the war in Vietnam. Without overemphasizing either of these factors, this intelligently balanced account offers a complex and nuanced portrait of a complex and nuanced individual.


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