More than a half century before former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee when the national anthem was played before his game to protest human rights abuse in the world, 1968 Olympic gold-medalist sprinter Tommie Smith raised a gloved fist on the medalist platform in Mexico City to protest the same mistreatment.
This gesture by Smith after he won the 200-meter dash, as with Kaepernick’s kneeling, brought international attention to the struggle for civil rights in the United States in the 1960s.
In a news release from the High Museum of Art in Midtown, Smith’s act of protest is explored in a new exhibition there called “With Drawn Arms: Glenn Kaino and Tommie Smith,” which opened Sept. 29 and will be on display through Feb. 3.
According to the release, the exhibition will introduce several new works as the culmination of a multi-year collaboration between Kaino, a conceptual artist, and Smith, a Stone Mountain resident, and features sculptures and drawings by both men.
In addition, the exhibition will include excerpts from an original documentary about Smith’s life and his collaboration with Kaino and photographer/videographer Afshin Shahidi.
According to the release, by bridging the past and present together, the exhibition powerfully resonates in the current moment of reckoning with racial injustice in America.
“Glenn so poignantly celebrates Smith’s story through this project and the artwork and film, that it encourages us to reflect on the power of the individual to effect change,” the release stated.
In the release, High Director Rand Suffolk said the museum is proud to bring the Atlanta community together to commemorate “Tommie’s act of bravery and examine the power of protest in one’s lifetime.”
Michael Rooks, the High’s curator of modern and contemporary art, said in the release, there may be no other event in the 20th century “that so powerfully speaks to the present moment of confrontation with the endemic racism and inequality that persists in today’s society.”
“The image of Tommy’s silent protest on the victory stand has become an iconic symbol of resistance and unity for generations,” Kaino said in the release.
The exhibition is located in the lobby and second levels of the High’s Ann Cox Chambers Wing. Admission is included with regular museum tickets, which are $14.50 for adults and free for High members and children 5 and under.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the www.high.org.