2 Fists Up

Spike LeeUSA59 minutes14AEnglish

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This timely documentary from Spike Lee focuses on the women organizers behind the University of Missouri's 2015 student protests against racial discrimination, which only gained national media attention after the school's football team got involved.

Spike Lee's documentary 2 Fists Up looks at student demonstrations held at the University of Missouri in autumn 2015, and how the Black Lives Matter movement and the school's proximity to Ferguson inspired a group of young activists to lead a protest against systemic racism and ongoing cases of discrimination on campus.

Produced for ESPN's online platform The Undefeated, the film focuses primarily on the women who formed the Concerned Student 1950, a group dedicated to bringing attention to the university administration's failure to address widespread hate crimes experienced by black students and a chronic lack of support for marginalized communities. When Jonathan Butler, a co-founder of Concerned Student 1950, commits to a hunger strike demanding that the university president Tim Wolfe agrees to step down, he is supported by friends, fellow students, and faculty. Inspired by Butler, Mizzou's football team announces that they'll boycott all team activities, including scheduled games, in solidarity.

Lee's decision to centre the film around young, black, female organizers rather than the football players sheds light on an unfortunate reality: widespread media coverage of the story only began when the team boycotted, despite weeks of protest leading up to that. Comprising interviews with Concerned Student 1950 members and powerful images of protesters and their allies rallying together, 2 Fists Up is a candid conversation on the lack of support for marginalized communities within the higher education system — a powerful case study on the embodied experiences of racism faced by black students and their fight to bring about lasting change.