Words by Jillian Bowe

John Legend and Jesse Williams are teaming up to highlight how sports and protests have gone hand in hand for decades. According to Deadline, the two will executive produce with Williams starring the documentary, With Drawn Arms.

The film focuses on former NFL wide receiver Tommie Smith and the 1968 Olympics in Mexico. Smith participated in the 200-meters competition and became immortalized when he and his teammate Bronze medal winner and Olympic Project for Human Rights member John Carlos wore black leather gloves and raised their fist on the winner’s podium while the Star-Spangled Banner played.


Both Smith and Carlos decided to protest the social injustices taking place in America. Afterwards, the two were suspended from the United States team and were stripped of their credentials and were forced to leave Olympic Village within 48 hours.

The film is currently in production and is being co-directed by Afshin Shahidi, Prince’s personal photographer and the father of Black-ish and Grown-ish star Yara Shahidi, along with Glenn Kaino.

Legend said in a released statement,

“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. “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.”

Williams also revealed his elation with regards to working on the project. Williams stated,

“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. 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.