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Brother Outsider2002

The Life of Bayard Rustin

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  • 4.6
On November 20, 2013, Bayard Rustin was posthumously awarded the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. Who was this man? He was there at most of the important events of the Civil Rights Movement, but always in the background. BROTHER OUTSIDER: THE LIFE OF BAYARD RUSTIN asks "Why?" It presents a vivid drama, intermingling the personal and the political, about one of the most enigmatic figures in 20th-century American history. One of the first "freedom riders," an adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and A. Philip Randolph, organizer of the march on Washington, intelligent, gregarious and charismatic, Bayard Rustin was denied his place in the limelight for one reason, he was gay. BROTHER OUTSIDER: THE LIFE OF BAYARD RUSTIN contributes a fascinating new chapter to our understanding of both progressive movements and gay life in 20th-century America.

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1 member likes this review

So powerfully executed, "Brother Outsider: The LIfe of Bayard Rustin," brought me to tears. Rustin worked tirelessly for civil rights -- often from the margins, organizing the March on Washington and numerous other non-violent marches in the hopes of illustrating our interdependence upon each other as human beings. The archival footage together with the voice over and musical selections married beautifully. Rustin's memory and, in fact, legacy of advocating for social and civil rights in America should never be forgotten. Never ashamed of his sexuality, Bayard stood on solid ground, understanding his duty as a human being to advocate for peace.

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top reviewer

Member Reviews (7)

E3c0ef15d3401075340dcd342d006208?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2ffemale%2favatar f 0052
top reviewer

So powerfully executed, "Brother Outsider: The LIfe of Bayard Rustin," brought me to tears. Rustin worked tirelessly for civil rights -- often from the margins, organizing the March on Washington and numerous other non-violent marches in the hopes of illustrating our interdependence upon each other as human beings. The archival footage together with the voice over and musical selections married beautifully. Rustin's memory and, in fact, legacy of advocating for social and civil rights in America should never be forgotten. Never ashamed of his sexuality, Bayard stood on solid ground, understanding his duty as a human being to advocate for peace.

1 member likes this review
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top reviewer

This is one of those documentaries that immerses the viewer into events as they unfold. From his early participation in pacifism to the heyday of the civil rights movement and beyond, Bayard Rustin and his world come alive in Brother Outsider. Even if one does not agree with him, it is difficult not to admire the eloquence and conviction with which Rustin expressed his views.

It would be hard to find a better document about mid-Twentieth-Century social movements than this documentary. Their abstract notions take tangible form here.

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top reviewer

What a moral and organizational non-violent, pacifist powerhouse Bayard Rustin was and what character to "overcome" so many heart-breaking disappointments ... and yet to have the resilience to fall in love at age 65 with a man half his age. Of particular note are the debates he had with Malcolm X and later with Stokley Carmichael which were certainly not nationally televised at the time. Then (1960s),I would have gravitated more to Rustin's position of dealing pragmatically with power -- especially since the "lesser evil" -- the Democrats -- seemed poised and ready to make permanent, significant, structural economic and social changes. Today, I come down on the sides of both Malcolm X and Stokley Carmichael. Moreover, acting to smash the system then rather than cooperating with power might have provided a real course change for the country. In total retrospect, striking while the mass protest and unrest iron was hot THEN so to speak with civil rights, feminsm, anti-Vietnam, labor strikes and anti-nuclear and gay rights all bubbling forth may have been the only chance for meaningful, non-violent structural change. In any case, that hot iron was rapidly cooled and then frozen by Nixon, Reagan, Clinton and Bush/Cheney/Obama into the neoliberal austerity globalized US empire permanent war capitalist misery of the precariat of 2016. It would be wise to be prepared to act now as the system collapses to implement radical democracy eco-socialism -- perhaps the only chance to literally save the human species from self-extinction. In any case, like Rustin, I thought it pragmatic and idealistic to work for change within the system at the time, like Rustin accepting the lesser of two evils as a tactical appropach. Today is seems clear that the lesser of two evils is still clearly evil .. and was even in the heyday of Kennedy/Johnson social engineering. Moreover, it seems that in going for pragmatic tactical alliances, and isolated do-gooding, the overarching strategy for project of human emancipation was kneecapped. I can see that now; it seems as if Mr. Rustin did not permit himself to consider it or if he did, it is not covered in the film. But what a moral and organizational powerhouse he was. I most admire his courage as a young man: a pacifist conscientious objector in World War II; integrating the interstate buses a decade before Rosa Parks; raising hell against racism and injustice, being gay in a hostile and homophobic world and promoting non-violent change. The non-violent thing seemed to work then; in retrospect, things clearly became far worse, although not because of the non-violent efforts to change society, but in non-violent, "kinder,gentler" suppression of ALL efforts to change society by the time of Bush/Cheney/Obama/Hillary/Jeb/Trump.

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top reviewer

A wonderful movie that follows a true American original through a life that spanned many important decades and went in several directions, all of them important. Don't miss his singing!

Excellent, atmospheric film of this pioneer of Civil Rights and forerunner of Martin Luther King. Wonderful soundtrack too, Bayard Rustin himself singing beautifully. Highly recommended! :)

Amazing Movie!

I saw this a few years ago. It is great to be able to view this informative film again!