‘Hamilton’ actor now plays civil rights icon

Posted on July 07, 2020

Portrait of alumnus Deon'te Goodman
Portrait of alumnus Deon'te Goodman

In Broadway’s “Hamilton,” Deon’te Goodman ’16 has portrayed some of American’s leading historical figures.

A member of the ensemble and cover for the roles of George Washington, Aaron Burr, Hercules Mulligan, and James Madison, the UNCG alumnus is in the spotlight yet again.

This time he will portray civil rights icon Bayard Rustin.

With all of Broadway – including “Hamilton” – currently on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, actors and new shows are getting even more creative in how they present their work. 

Audiences have moved to screens. Onstage has moved to online.

And Goodman will star in a special online reading of the new musical “Bayard.” It will be streamed live Wednesday, July 8, at 8 p.m.

Bayard Rustin, a leading figure in the Black Civil Rights Movement, helped organize the Freedom Riders, helped form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and was key in organizing the 1963 March on Washington. A gay Black man, he became more vocal in advocating for LGBTQ+ rights as he grew older.

The online reading, with $10 tickets, will support Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and Broadway For Racial Justice. The event is part of the Allen & Gray musical festival. You may purchase tickets for the online performance of “Bayard” here

“He was so much more than a Black, gay activist. He was a humanitarian, and I personally think we need more of that in this world,” Goodman said, in an email interview this week. “On another note, I think it’s important to acknowledge that as a humanitarian, he fought for more than just Black and gay people. Rustin stood against all injustices. It speaks to the kind of ally he was, which is something so important in this world, especially in the LGBTQIA+ community as Trans lives (especially Black Trans lives) are so heavily under attack.”

Goodman had the role of another civil rights icon, John Lewis, in a January 2020 MLK Day concert version of “Freedom Riders: A Civil Rights Musical.” Goodman had been featured in the original 2017 staging of “Freedom Riders: The Civil Rights Musical,” part of the New York Musical Festival.

Being cast in an Orlando production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights” helped lead, ultimately, to being cast in “Hamilton” on Broadway.

“The journey of ‘Hamilton’ has changed my life and the thought of returning to that stage overwhelms me with excitement,” Goodman said. “As for ‘Bayard,’ I plan to go as far as the journey calls. The erasure of Black people in the LGBTQIA+ community is not a new concept. It has been happening as early as Bayard Rustin and even earlier. I’m just honored to have a part in inking him back into history.”

Goodman holds a bachelor’s degree in classical voice performance from UNCG.

He studied voice under Carla LeFevre, scene study under Jim Wren, and audition tech under Dominick Amendum ’01.

He performed in several productions at UNCG, including “Galileo Galilei,” directed by Kevin Geraldi. The Pulitzer-winning composer Phillip Glass attended a UNCG Auditorium rehearsal and gave feedback to the cast. Goodman also appeared in “Cabaret,” directed by John Gulley, “Amahl & the Night Visitors,” directed by David Holley, and several other shows.

Story by Mike Harris, UNCG Magazine
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications


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