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O.J.: The Pioneer Before the Prisoner

Feb 25, 2017 | 72 videos
Video by The Atlantic

Before O.J. Simpson’s polarizing murder trial in 1994, he was America’s most beloved and famous collegiate athlete. With his Chevrolet commercials in 1969, he became the first black athlete corporate pitchman, paving the way for stars like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods to represent brands on television. But when asked to join other black athletes in boycotting the 1968 Olympics, Simpson replied, “I’m not black, I’m O.J.” Ezra Edelman’s Oscar-nominated documentary, O.J.: Made in America, highlights the paradox between Simpson’s efforts to de-racialize himself and the African American icon he became. “If you're a kid like me, growing up watching TV in the late 70's and early 80's there aren't very many black people on TV. So [O.J.] is providing a very meaningful image for black kids in black America,” Edelman says in this short animation. “He deserves his due for the way that he influenced culture beyond being on trial for murder in 1994 and 1995.”

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Authors: Tynesha Foreman, Daniel Lombroso

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Short, animated videos from The Atlantic