With Drawn Arms (Tommie Smith)

Every once in awhile, athletic competition transcends entertainment value and reaches a level of broad social importance. Think of ping pong diplomacy of the early 1970s, for example.  More recently, Colin Kaepernick’s silent protest in support of Black Lives Matter has become a national issue.

Then there’s the 1968 Summer Olympics. Tommie Smith won the gold medal in the 200m event and as he stood on the medal stand, he raised one fist in a Black Power salute to protest discrimination against African-Americans in the United States. He (and two other athletes) faced consequences at the time, including immediate removal from the US Olympic team. Yet, the moment endures as a symbolic moment in the history of the Black Power movement, one that has gained social acceptance in the decades since.

Today, I donated to a Kickstarter project called “With Drawn Arms,” which seeks to memorialize Tommie Smith through a traveling art exhibition, that brings opportunities for youth to learn to draw and collaborate with Tommie Smith.

[Edit: Posting this on October 13, but the donation was made on October 12.]

 

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