Jesse Williams and John Legend Join Forces for a Documentary Project About the Iconic 1968 Olympic Protest

We’ve all seen the iconic image of Olympic sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos with their heads bowed and their black-gloved fists raised at the 1968 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City. A Time Magazine article from 2014 recalled that millions of Americans were outraged by the athletes’ protest during the playing of the national anthem. Others, however, were inspired.

“We were just human beings who saw a need to bring attention to the inequality in our country,” Smith said years later, in a documentary on the 1968 Mexico City games produced for HBO. “I don’t like the idea of people looking at it as negative. There was nothing but a raised fist in the air and a bowed head, acknowledging the American flag—not symbolizing a hatred for it.”

And for anyone paying attention to the fallout NFL players have recently received, the similarities between the iconic 1968 protest and the #takeaknee movement are eerily similar. So it’s timely that Jesse Williams and John Legend are producing a documentary, titled With Drawn Arms, which will specifically focus on Olympic gold medalist and former NFL wider receiver, Tommie Smith.

“Tommie Smith is more than an iconic poster or risky act of defiance that inspires people the world over. He is a living man, whose incredible journey is worthy of examination,” said Williams. “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.”

Williams and Legend will executive produce with Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius, partners with him in his Get Lifted Film Co.

Legend added, “We are excited to…bring this powerful story to the world in a fresh and compelling way. 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.”

According to Shadow and Act, the film is currently in production, and is aiming for an October 16, 2018 release for the 50th anniversary of the protest.

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