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Blacks and the Olympics: Part 2

Johnny Canuck3

Well-Known Member
Sort of a different tack on this thread. Here we commemorate the fortieth anniversary of something that happened at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.




This might not seem like much today, but it was an act of courage, that had serious personal consequences for the athletes involved, but that resulted in a galvanizing moment of the civil rights movement.

The personal consequences were described in this article:

It was during the 200 metres victory ceremony at the 1968 Olympics. Smith had won in world-record time; Carlos had captured the bronze.

As they stood on the victory platform and the US anthem began, they bowed their heads, and, each wearing a black glove, raised a clenched fist in a black power salute. Australia's Peter Norman, who won silver, wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge in support of the pair.

It remains one of the most vivid Olympic images - a picture once seen, never forgotten. It was a courageous, non-violent protest, benign but impassioned dissent. They meant to bring further attention to civil rights issues, to give pride to African-Americans, and they succeeded.

But the reaction was as swift as it was negative. In the US there was outrage from many white Americans. People saw heads bowed as disrespectful towards the American flag. They mistakenly saw the clenched fists as supportive of the Black Panthers.

The Associated Press report described them "in a Nazi-like salute". Chicago columnist Brent Musburger called them "black-skinned storm troopers".

The outspoken Carlos made the kind of comments that only inflamed the establishment. After the ceremony he said: "We're sort of show horses out there for the white people. They give us peanuts, pat us on the back and say, 'Boy, you did fine.' "

The International Olympic Committee demanded the US Olympic Committee ban them from the Games, but it refused. The next day the IOC said if the sprinters were not banned, the entire US track and field team would be barred from further competition. The USOC caved in.

Smith and Carlos were withdrawn from the relays and expelled from the Olympic Village. When they returned home, Smith and Carlos were ostracised. Jobs became scarce. They received death threats and their homes were attacked.

"One rock came through our front window into our living room, where we had the crib," Smith said. "It seemed like everybody hated me. I had no food. My baby was hungry. My wife had no dresses."

Even today, there are those who remain angry and full of hatred.

"There are still threats," Carlos said. "I was never concerned about those punks. I just let them know it will be remembered, that life doesn't stop when you leave this planet."

After graduating, Smith was given an honourable discharge from army service for "un-American activities" That probably did him a huge favour, since the Vietnam war was raging and the body count growing.

"I was going to 'Nam," Smith said. "I could see myself in rice paddies. I believe there's a God. Sixty-eight had its downfall, but it had its protection for me. I might not be alive."

Carlos had two brothers serving, but after his protest both were immediately discharged.
Smith borrowed money to complete his education and get his teaching qualification. He tried gridiron for a few years with the Cincinnati Bengals, then finally got a job as a track coach in Ohio. In 1978 he moved to Santa Monica College, where he has been a social science and health teacher, and coaches track and field.

Carlos had an even more trying time, working as a security guard and bouncer, among other jobs.

"I'd get minimum wage and then go to Vegas and roll the dice to get it up to something to feed my family," he said. "We had to chop up furniture, the kids' beds, to stay warm."

Looking back, the first thing that comes to him is basic.

"That I survived," he said. "That I still have any sanity.

"My first wife is deceased as a result. She took her life because she couldn't deal with the pressure from the results of Mexico."
I didn't know before about Peter Norman, an Australian and the third man on the podium. He wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights button on his shirt on the podium, in support of Smith and Carlos. He deserves recognition for that.



John Carlos and Tommie Smith: heroes of the Civil Rights Movement.
 

Firky

The first of the gang
Banned
I found a pic the other day of gus from eastenders wearing a mexico 68 tshirt and doing the BP salute :D
 

King Biscuit Time

Well-Known Member
Peter Norman was a fucking dude. He's dead now. Carlos and Smith were pallbearers at his funeral.

Wiki here.


Sort of a different tack on this thread. Here we commemorate the fortieth anniversary of something that happened at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.




This might not seem like much today, but it was an act of courage, that had serious personal consequences for the athletes involved, but that resulted in a galvanizing moment of the civil rights movement.

The personal consequences were described in this article:



I didn't know before about Peter Norman, an Australian and the third man on the podium. He wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights button on his shirt on the podium, in support of Smith and Carlos. He deserves recognition for that.



John Carlos and Tommie Smith: heroes of the Civil Rights Movement.
 

Johnny Canuck3

Well-Known Member
Norman was overlooked by Australian organising authorities as being involved in any way with the 2000 Summer Olympics held in Sydney; he was however eventually part of the event after being invited by the Americans when they heard that his own country had omitted to do so[3]. On October 17, 2003 San Jose State University unveiled a statue commemorating the 1968 Olympic protest; Norman was not included as part of the statue itself - his empty podium spot intended for others viewing the statue to "take a stand" - but was invited to deliver a speech at the ceremony[2].
from wikipedia.
 

Johnny Canuck3

Well-Known Member
I'm glad I learned about Peter Norman, even if it is 40 years late.

I started this thread because I went for a shawarma, and CBC was on his tv, with a story about this. I watched a bit, and said to the guy: "I remember that!" He just looked at me.

I'd forgotten how powerful it was. Viewing it now, 40 years later, it was powerful again, and imbued with the knowledge of what's gone on in the 40 years since; the good and the bad.

And it made me read about them, and learn of the sacrifice forced on them because of what they did.
 

aylee

In exile in Haringay
Total respect to all of them for holding true to their principles, and shame on the IOC for its reactionism. :mad:
 

STFC

Well-Known Member
Jesse Owens made that Austrian bloke look a bit silly at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Owens was cheered enthusiastically by 110,000 people in Berlin's Olympic Stadium and later ordinary Germans sought his autograph when they saw him in the streets. Owens was allowed to travel with and stay in the same hotels as whites, an irony at the time given that blacks in the United States were denied equal rights. After a New York ticker-tape parade in his honor, Owens had to ride the freight elevator to attend his own reception at the Waldorf-Astoria.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesse_Owens
 

DexterTCN

Mastodon noob
There was a great prog on about this last week on BBC 4.

Wasn't the head of the IOC, who got them banned, the head guy at the university where they trained, a white supremacist type?
 

N_igma

Epistemic nuisance
There was a great prog on about this last week on BBC 4.

Wasn't the head of the IOC, who got them banned, the head guy at the university where they trained, a white supremacist type?
Something like that, but what also surprised me was that according to that programme Owens was forced by him to come out and condemn the protests. Even though Owens had to run with horses and shit after he won his gold? What was that all about?
 

exosculate

a stagger with a beat
No problem commemorating this, probably the most impressive political act made by sports stars in modern history.

So absolutely powerful - even now.
 

bigbry

Well-Known Member
R.I.P.
Remember it well.

And I can honestly say that at the time I was 100 % with them even if it was through my TV set - remember a lot of shit in the papers (even UK papers) at the time.
 

Johnny Canuck3

Well-Known Member
Aye that's him.

Worse than I thought. Wiki link
I never realized what a complete twat he was:

Brundage opposed the inclusion of women as Olympic competitors; he insisted they have no role in the Olympic Games beyond the ceremonial or decorative. He was quoted in 1936: "I am fed up to the ears with women as track and field competitors... her charms sink to something less than zero. As swimmers and divers, girls are [as] beautiful and adroit as they are ineffective and unpleasing on the track." [4]
 

poggy

New Member
Maybe its the MDMA from last week .. but that's made me smile and i have the smallest tear running down my cheek

*gives the thread black power salute*
 

E.J.

Away from U75
There's a documentary film called Salute directed by Matt Norman the nephew of Peter Norman (200m Olympic Silver medalist - Mexico 68). Up until this week and just like some of the posters on this thread. I didn't know that it was Norman who suggested the idea to Tommie Smith & John Carlos to wear the black gloves in the medal ceremony. It speaks a lot of volumes about the character, respect and above all tolerance of the Australian athlete, lets face it he was shabbily treatd by the Aussie press & sporting fraternity. Maximum kudos & total respect to all three of the former athletes for making a true stand of their beliefs against wide spread criticism for their actions.

Salute movie website
 
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