John Legend, Jesse Williams To Produce Film On 1968 Olympic Protest
Jesse Williams and John Legend are producing a documentary on the iconic 1968 Olympic protest titled With Drawn Arms.
In a report from Deadline, the film will focus on Olympic gold medalist and NFL wide receiver Tommie Smith and his participation in a protest that would change his life forever. Following his win of the 200-meters at the Games of the XIX Olympiad in Mexico City in 1968, Smith alongside Bronze medalist and fellow Olympic Project for Human Rights member John Carlos raised their black-gloved fists during the Star-Spangled Banner to protest racial injustice.
Following the incident, Smith and Carlos were suspended from the American team and were threatened for the gesture, which many perceived to be a sign of Black Power (Smith later stated that it was a “human rights salute”). Still, Smith carried on, earning several track and field records, as well as playing for the Cincinnati Bengals for a couple of seasons and ultimately becoming a teacher at Ohio and Santa Monica College.
“We are excited to collaborate with true artists in Glenn Kaino and Afshin Shahidi to bring this powerful story to the world in a fresh and compelling way,” Legend said. “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.”
“Tommie Smith is more than an iconic poster or risky act of defiance that inspires people the world over,” Williams added. “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.”
With Drawn Arms is currently in production in Los Angeles, with the film being co-directed by conceptual artist Glenn Kaino and Prince creative collaborator Afshin Shahidi. The film is aiming to be released towards October 16 next year to coincide with the 50-year anniversary of the raised fist by Smith, who is now 73-years-old.