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John Legend and Jesse Williams Team Up to Produce Documentary on 1968 Olympic Protest


Deadline reports John Legend and Jesse Williams are producing a new documentary, With Drawn Arms, on Olympic gold medalist and NFL wide receiver Tommie Smith, who in an act of protest and defiance of white supremacy, threw his fist up at the 1968 Olympics.

Smith, who is now 73, alongside Bronze medalist and fellow Olympic Project for Human Rights member Joh Carlos’ gloved fists raised in the air became one of the most memorable symbols of the Civil Rights Movement, and was certainly a defining moment in the continued fight for racial equality, particularly from sports figures. Smith and Carlos were suspended from the American team and were threatened for their act of empowerment.

“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 of the film. “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.”

Given the continued racial turmoil the country continues to grapple with, highlighted by the debate surrounding Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the anthem in protest of state sanctioned police violence against black people, the film feels especially relevant.

“Tommie Smith is more than an iconic poster or risky act of defiance that inspires people the world over,” Williams said. “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 slated to be released next October to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the act by Smith.


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