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Jesse Williams And John Legend Producing Documentary On Historic 1968 Olympic Protest

Jesse Williams And John Legend Producing Documentary On Historic 1968 Olympic Protest


Known for speaking out against the social issues of today, Shadow and Act reports that entertainers and activists Jesse Williams and John Legend are teaming up to produce a documentary on the historical 1968 Olympic protest. 

Titled, "With Drawn Arms," the project will focus on Olympic gold medalist and former NFL player Tommie Smith protesting racial injustice alongside Olympic bronze medalist and Olympic Project for Human Rights member John Carlos. At the 1968 Olympics, both Smith and Carlos used their platform to stand against racial oppression by raising their first, covered with a black glove, during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner.

Following their actions, the two athletes were suspended from the American team and forced to leave the Olympics. Smith continued his athletic career by playing for the Cincinnati Bengals, before leaving the league to teach in Ohio and at Santa Monica College.

"Tommie Smith is more than an iconic poster or risky act of defiance that inspires people over the world. He is a living man, whose incredible journey is worthy of examination," Shadow and Act reports Williams saying.

Williams and Legend will work on the project alongside Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius, who are both partners with Legend in his Get Lifted Film Company. Artist Glenn Kaino and cinematographer Afshin Shahidi (who is the father of activist and actress Yara Shahidi) will also work with the entertainers to bring the documentary to life.

The third man in the iconic photo, Peter Norman, also stood in solidarity with Smith and Carlos, by wearing an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge during the award ceremony. His actions resulted in his home country, Australia, who enforced the White Australian policy at the time, to not select him for the 1972 Munich Olympics. Although he broke an Australian record that day, Norman's achievements became unacknowledged in both Australia and history.

Photo via: HBO Real Sports 

"In this current climate we are once again being charged to stand up to bigotry, fear, and hate. We are inspired by this story and honored to be a creative partner on this film," said Legend. 

With the controversy around Colin Kaepernick and the silent protest many NFL players are partaking in today, the “With Drawn Arms” documentary will greatly reflect how athletes have historically used their platform to push for political change. 

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the protest, the film is set to be released on October 16, 2018.