Book Review: Victory. Stand!: Raising My Fist for Justice by Tommie Smith, Derrick Barnes, Dawud Anyabwile
A groundbreaking and timely graphic memoir from one of the most iconic figures in American sports—and a tribute to his fight for civil rights.
On October 16, 1968, during the medal ceremony at the Mexico City Olympics, Tommie Smith, the gold medal winner in the 200-meter sprint, and John Carlos, the bronze medal winner, stood on the podium in black socks and raised their black-gloved fists to protest racial injustice inflicted upon African Americans. Both men were forced to leave the Olympics, received death threats, and faced ostracism and continuing economic hardships.
In his first-ever memoir for young readers, Tommie Smith looks back on his childhood growing up in rural Texas through to his stellar athletic career, culminating in his historic victory and Olympic podium protest. Cowritten with Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Author Honor recipient Derrick Barnes and illustrated with bold and muscular artwork from Emmy Award–winning illustrator Dawud Anyabwile, Victory. Stand! paints a stirring portrait of an iconic moment in Olympic history that still resonates today.
This was a phenomenal read. Beyond knowing the iconic photo of Tommie Smith and his teammate John Carlos on the podium, fists raised, I knew little about Smith’s story or what led him to so bravely taking a stand at the 1968 Olympics. The powerful story takes us through Smith’s entire life, from a young child working the fields with his sharecropper father in Texas, to an elite high school athlete in California, to the Olympic games. All along the way, Smith recounts how focused he was, how determined, how inspired by his hardworking parents and their dream for something more for him. Of course, both Smith’s personal story and the story of the 1950s and 1960s (the focus of the bulk of his story) is one of civil rights, activism, racism, and calls for justice and equality. The story isn’t an easy or comfortable read, nor should it be. It’s a hard, honest look at the horrors of the era, the discrimination and outright hatred that Smith faced, and the continued struggles he faced after the Olympics on the long path to him eventually being widely recognized as a courageous and inspiring role model, eventually being invited to the White House by Obama and finally—finally!—being inducted into the Olympic and Paralympic Hall of Fame. An amazing celebration of resiliency, strength, and determination, Smith’s incredible story shows how far we have come and how far we have yet to go. A fantastic book.
Review copy (ARC) courtesy of the publisher
Publisher: Norton Young Readers
Publication date: 09/27/2022
Age Range: 13 – 18 Years
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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