Bayard Rustin. Photo courtesy of Flickr.

ALTON - Alton’s NCG Cinemas movie theater will have a special showing of “Rustin” from Feb. 16–23, 2024. The movie serves as a “prequel” for the Robert J. Ellison “Unfiltered Lens” photography exhibit at Jacoby Arts Center.

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Ralph “Bo” Jackson, Ellison’s cousin, explained that the movie will help “set the stage” for the photos shown in the exhibit. “Rustin” tells the story of Bayard Rustin, an advisor to Martin Luther King, Jr. who played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement and the 1963 March on Washington where King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. Ellison’s photos start with the March on Washington and continue through the Civil Rights Movement into the Vietnam War.

“It’s just like a time machine going back to 1963,” Jackson said. “You’ll see about the injustices that are going on, the segregated bathrooms and water fountains, just crazy stuff. And that kind of helps set the stage for the photos, because then you see why we have all these different protest marches.”

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Ellison was a photographer who captured several famous images of the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. Jackson said “Rustin” helps people understand the division in the country and the famous marches that Ellison photographed.

Jackson thanked NCG Cinemas Event Director Jason Mills, who helped coordinate the movie in Alton. “Rustin” is on Netflix and Jackson said it took a lot of negotiating to get permission to show the movie at the Alton theater.

He said it’s “just a miracle” that they are able to show the movie for a full week. If there are enough tickets sold, the theater will extend their showing of “Rustin” for another week. The movie will provide context for the photo display.

“Come see the movie and kind of get in the 1960s frame of mind,” Jackson added. “The first chapter of the display is seeing ‘Rustin’ and seeing the preparations for the March on Washington and how bad segregation was. And then pivot over to Jacoby and see the photos that kick in from the March on Washington up to Vietnam.”

You can learn more about the Robert J. Ellison “Unfiltered Lens” photo exhibit at this article on

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