Winner 1999

Fists of Freedom: The Story of the ‘68 Summer Games

Home Box Office Sports, New York, in association with Black Canyon Productions

As much about the period as it is about the moment, this HBO Sports documentary recounts the racially charged atmosphere of the 1968 Olympics. By the summer of 1968, it seemed that America stood on the precipice of self-destruction. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy had been assassinated. Conflict and struggle were everywhere: against the war in Vietnam, against racial inequality, against poverty and despair in inner cities. In that atmosphere of political and social unrest, two track athletes took center stage with a quiet, symbolic protest that resonates today. The black-gloved, fists-held-high “black power” salute by U.S. Olympic Team members Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the victory stand in Mexico City is at the heart of Fists of Freedom: The Story of the ‘68 Summer Games. A hallmark of HBO Sports and Black Canyon Productions’ expert handiwork, the program blends rare footage with interviews from Tommie Smith, to fellow protester and Olympic Gold Medallist Lee Evans, to fellow Olympians Bob Beamon, Bill Toomey, Bob Seagren and Ralph Boston. Deserving of commendation are senior vice president, HBO Sports, and executive producer Ross Greenburg, senior producer Rick Bernstein, producers George Roy and Steve Stern of Black Canyon Productions, the music of Brian Keane and the narration by Liev Schreiber. For providing an important historical document of a pivotal moment, a Peabody goes to Fists of Freedom.