David Permut, Daniel Sladek and Chris Taaffe are teaming to produce a film based on the life of late civil rights activist Bayard Rustin.
The producing trio, which exec produced TV movie “Prayers for Bobby,” recently consummated the deal with Rustin’s estate. Rustin’s life partner Walter Naegle, who administers the estate, will co-produce along with Permut Presentations VP Steve Longi.
Rustin was a strategist and activist promoting nonviolent strategies for social change for more than half a century. He’s best known for his organization of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the platform for Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
His work was sometimes hampered by a past many considered controversial, including membership in the Young Communist League; a three-year prison term for refusal to cooperate with the military on conscientious grounds; and his open homosexuality, including an arrest for lewd vagrancy. Sen. Strom Thurmond denounced Rustin on the Senate floor prior to the 1963 march.
Rustin died in 1987 following a visit to Haiti, where he was exploring the possibility of democratic change in conjunction with a pending election.
“This is a provocative and challenging piece about a man who was one of the most influential figures in the history of civil rights but not as widely known because of his own personal choices, which he was careful to never let compromise his tireless efforts,” Permut said.
Rustin’s life story was profiled in the documentary “Brother Outsider,” directed by Bennett Singer and Nancy Kates. The documentary was an official selection of the 2003 Sundance Film Festival.
Permut’s developing a number of true stories, including Sam Kinison bio “Brother Sam,” at HBO; “Chippendales,” with Tony Scott; and a John Z. DeLorean project. His latest film, “Youth in Revolt,” starring Michael Cera, is in release from Dimension.