Victory. Stand! Raising My Fist for Justice

Norton. Sept. 2022. 208p. Tr $22.95. ISBN 9781324003908. pap. $17.95. ISBN 9781324052159. .
Gr 8 Up–Smith’s life story, centered around the historic raising of his fist at the 1968 Olympic games, is also a portrait of resistance against inequality in America. The narrative alternates between a chronological recounting of Smith’s life, beginning with his humble roots working on a farm in Texas, and one of the most significant races of his athletic career. As a Black athlete, Smith experiences racism on multiple levels from childhood up through college and adulthood, and these life experiences inform his worldviews and reflections on his community’s treatment based on race. Throughout, the determination and joy he derives from his family and Christian faith keep him focused on the high road in any conflict, and the narrative highlights various coaches, politicians, educators, activists, and fellow athletes who made an impression on Smith as well as on America. The balance between the personal and the broader historical perspectives makes this book as accessible as it is educational. For example, Smith’s titular stand is given full context regarding the preparation, execution, and aftermath, including fallout. Anyabwile’s black-and-white illustrations achieve the same balance and then some as they portray Smith’s tumultuous periods as well as his hard-fought triumphs. There is nothing saccharine about this view into the past, but there is plenty worth remembering and considering.
VERDICT An illuminating example of the power of a moral stance, no matter when it occurs in one’s life.

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