A band of Ferris State University offices and organizations have teamed up to educate the campus community about one of the unsung heroes of the Civil Rights Movement through a documentary focused on the contributions of activist Bayard Rustin.
The film “Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin” will be shown at 7 p.m. in IRC 121, Wednesday, Feb. 9. A reflective discussion will be held immediately after the documentary is aired. The film and discussion events are free and open to the public.
“Brother Outsider” features the life of Rustin who focused on the struggle to achieve peace, racial equality, economic justice and human rights. Rustin was a leading organizer of one of the largest nonviolent protests in the United States, the 1963 March on Washington. He was a civil rights activist, an African American and an openly gay man.
“Rustin is one of my heroes. The fact is that he often doesn’t get credit in part because he was gay,” said David Pilgrim, vice president for Diversity and Inclusion at Ferris. “I think it’s good for our campus to be made aware that he played a part in the Civil Rights Movement.”
Lonie Donald, a Biology Education student at Ferris and coordinator of the “Brother Outsider” event said, “Students can watch this film and compare it to what’s going on today. They can make an inference on what has changed since then and what can still be improved.” Donald, a native of Detroit, believes his fellow students will take from this film a better understanding of past and present struggles experienced by African Americans and gay Americans.
Pilgrim hopes the documentary educates students unaware of Rustin’s achievements.
“Students will learn about someone they may know little about. In an ideal world we would all know about Rustin and that he was the brains behind the movement,” he said.
Members of Ferris student organizations B.L.A.C.K. (Black Leaders Aspiring for Critical Knowledge) and D-SAGA (Diverse Sexuality and Gender Alliance) collaborated to organize this event for students.
The event is sponsored by the Diversity and Inclusion Office and the Office of Multicultural Student Services. Light beverages and refreshments will be served.