Before the nation was in an uproar over NFL players staying on the bench or taking a knee during the national anthem in protest; there was a juncture in history that remains one of the symbolic moments in the history of the Black Power movement.
At the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos made a statement with raised fists atop the medal podium. John Legend and Jesse Williams are working on a documentary, With Drawn Arms, that will look at one of the most famous examples of athletics and politics controversially coming together.
Currently in production in Los Angeles the documentary is co-directed by Glenn Kaino and Afshin Shahidi. Legend along with his Get Lifted Film Co partners Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius are executive producing alongside Jesse Williams.
Smith is the focus of the documentary. He is a former track and field athlete and wide receiver in the American Football League. He won the gold medal at the 1968 games in the 200-meter dash, while Carlos earned the bronze medal. While atop the medal podium they gave the Black Power salute, in “protest of the harsh, and sometimes deadly discrimination against African-Americans because of their skin color in the United States.”
Their gesture was not well received as they were subsequently suspended, stripped of their credentials, and given 48 hours to leave Olympic Village.
“Tommie Smith is more than an iconic poster or risky act of defiance that inspires people the world over,” noted Williams. “He is a living man, whose incredible journey is worthy of examination. I couldn’t be more excited to join forces with this team of filmmakers, to share his reality and challenge our notions of heroism in the process.”