QRC to screen documentary on overlooked civil rights activist

The Queer Resource Center will screen the film Brother Outsider: the Life of Bayard Rustin in the Smith Memorial Student Union, room 458 on Jan. 22 at 6 p.m. The screening will be one of many events in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Week at the university.

Rustin is best remembered as the civil rights and gay rights activist that organized the 1963 march on Washington, one of the most important nonviolent protests in the United States.

Unfortunately, Rustin has often been overlooked as a key player for justice during the era and after, largely because he was an openly gay man also fighting for his rights as a black man.

“You give up one of your identities to gain rights in another area,” said Tessara Dudley, program coordinator for the Queeries Speakers Bureau at Portland State. Dudley is also a writer, educator and activist.

Raised as a Quaker, Rustin also had experience with pacifism, socialism and communism. Last November, Rustin, who died in 1987, was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the highest civilian award in the United States—by President Barack Obama.

The QRC hopes to communicate that while Martin Luther King Jr. was an essential role to the movement, he was not alone in his efforts, and his good image didn’t accommodate many groups that were oppressed and underrepresented.

Along with the screening, the QRC will be holding an art and writing workshop to have students further apply the inspiration of Rustin and others to their own lives.

Dudley said she hopes the activity will make people think about how they see themselves within the history of oppression, and how the works of others they’ve inherited continue to operate today.