The Stand: How One Gesture Shook the World

So important to watch films like this. Films which show us history. Where we came from. How much work still has to be done. Holds society up to a mirror and what is reflected back isn’t pretty. Or anywhere close to equality.

Of late we as a society have been called to the mat for the discrimination, abuse and murder of black people. Treatment and mistreatment which has been going on for centuries. A film like this really shows those amongst us that things have not gotten better.

When NFL quarterback Colin Caepernick took a knee during the American national anthem people were shocked. He took plenty of abuse and was eventually run out of the league never playing again. Losing millions in salary. All because he was a black man protesting against the treatment of blacks by law enforcement and the rest of the American system.

Remind you of anything? It should. Two black American athletes who competed in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City and won medals, then during the medal ceremony donned a black leather glove and raised their fist symbolic of the fight of blacks.

In Tom Ratcliffe and Becky Paige’s film we get the whole story. What happened leading up to, during and after this act. From the men involved themselves. Tommie Smith and John Carlos talk about why they did what they did and the repercussions they suffered as a result.

Their defiant gesture had wideranging implications and consequences of all types. The two men made a statement against the institutionalized racism they and every person of colour endured in the U.S. They were doing it for black pride and justice for all. While many see them as heroes at the time they were anything but. Thrown out of the Olympic Village, sent home, shunned from the sport they practiced and sent down a path of personal and professional problems for decades. These two twentysomethings paid a heavy price for their fight for equality.

We also hear about what was going on in the United States at the time. The racial unrest in the country. The Civil Rights battle of the 1960s. An interesting previously underreported story about how the Harvard Rowing team got involved. How the black athletes considered boycotting the Olympics. They did not want to represent a country which treated them horribly. Then how a peaceful student protest in Mexico City just before the Olympics began led to a massacre by the military.

The two men on the podium is one of the most iconic images in sports. Fifty years later and it still strikes a chord. Maybe even more so today than then. We know about it, but up until now not what happened before that image. This documentary fills in the blanks.

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