The poignant image of track and field legends Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising their black-gloved fists during the 1968 Olympic medal ceremony to denounce racial injustice illustrates a powerful act of protest that will forever be etched in sports history. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a new film will capture the story behind that transformative gesture of solidarity.
Bronx-bred director and producer Rashaad Ernesto Green is leading a project—dubbed’68—that will delve into what led up to the revolutionary moment. During the 60s, the world was submerged in political and social upheaval. Months before the Mexico City Olympic Games, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, sparking civil unrest. U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy was also murdered that year. Protests against the Vietnam War spread nationwide. Days before the games started, the Tlatelolco massacre occurred.
Deeply dismayed by the events, Smith and Carlos made the brave decision to boldly use the global stage at the Mexico City Olympics to bring attention to the injustices faced by marginalized communities. They raised their fists during the National Anthem while accepting their medals for the 200-meter competition. Their courageousness came with discriminatory backlash, including a suspension from the U.S. team, death threats and the loss of endorsement deals. Despite it all, Smith and Carlos sparked a movement that inspired generations of athletes to use their platforms for activism.
“Still incredibly powerful and relevant, I’m honored for the opportunity to bring Tommie and John’s riveting story to life; to portray the weight of the world, these two giants had on their shoulders and the self-determination, courage and sacrifice it took for them to stand up for all of us,” Ernesto Green shared in a statement, according to the news outlet. The film—which is being created under MGM, Participant and Macro—will be co-produced by Smith’s wife DeLois and Carlos’ nephews Shaun and Airrion McCoy. Billy Ray will write the script.
News about the film comes three years after Tommie Smith and John Carlos were inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.