Olympian Gwen Berry refused to stay silent—even at a great personal cost—about racial justice issues while representing the United States at the Tokyo Olympics.
Two years ago, hammer thrower Gwen Berry was harshly criticized after raising her fist during the U.S. national anthem during the Pan Am Games in Peru. Her actions led to swift repercussions—she was placed on probation for a year by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and lost 75 percent of her sponsorships. Instead of backing down, Berry—with the help of a sponsorship from Color of Change—continued using her worldwide platform to advocate for justice while representing the United States at the Tokyo Olympics. Berry even drew heat during the Olympic trials for turning her back on the American flag during the playing of the national anthem. "I feel like I've earned the right to wear this uniform," she said while in Tokyo. "I'll represent the oppressed people. That's been my message for the last three years." While her fiercest detractors can't seem to comprehend it, Berry's willingness to speak on behalf of marginalized communities and to bring attention to the ways America needs to grow is one of the most patriotic things anyone can do.