Tommie Smith made history more than 50 years ago when he raised his fist in the air after winning the gold medal at the 1968 Summer Olympic Games. And now the legacy of Smith can be seen in a new documentary, With Drawn Arms, which premiered on Starz Monday night. With Drawn Arms can also be streamed on the Starz app.
Along with showing the legacy of Smith, With Drawn Arms takes a look at the work he's doing with artist Glenn Kaino. The two opened an exhibit in 2018 which featured sculptural installations and drawings, objects from Smith's archives and a series of drawings from students across the country. One of the sculptures seen in the documentary is Smith's back as he's raising his fist, but the front of it is a mirror surface that shows the visitor's own images.
Kaino is a co-director of the film and is happy that Smith's message and story can now be heard all over the country. “This film has been in the making for eight years," Kaino and Afshin Shahidi, a New York Times best-selling author, said in a statement. "We’re thrilled to work with Starz to ensure that Tommie's message is heard nationwide, at such an urgent juncture in history."
In With Drawn Arms, Smith explains why he raised his fist in the air and the backlash he received afterward. Sports broadcaster Brent Musburger was covering the Olympics and attacked Smith as well as his teammate, John Carlos who also raised his fist in the air after winning a bronze medal. Musburger wrote a column for the Chicago American, which stated: "One gets a little tired of having the United States run down by athletes who are enjoying themselves at the expense of their country." He also called Smith a Carlos "a pair of black-skinned stormtroopers." In With Drawn Arms, Musburger admitted he was wrong for calling out Smith and Carols and said he apologized for his actions.
With Drawn Arms, which features singer John Legend and actor Jesse Williams as executive producers, includes interviews from Smith, Kaino, Williams sports analyst Jemele Hill, soccer gold medalist Megan Rapinoe, and the late Congressman John Lewis. It also features clips from the 1968 Olympics and shows the entire video of Smith and Carols raising their arms in the air during the national anthem.