Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tommie Smith and John Carlos: True Olympic Champions

In 1968, at the Olympic Games in Mexico City, Tommie Smith won the gold medal for the 200 meter in world record time.  His teammate, John Carlos, won the bronze.  They both gave the Black Power salute while receiving their medals (in what has become an iconic photo of the times).  Both were suspended from the U.S. team by IOC president Avery Brundage. 

Brundage had been president of the U.S. Olympic Committee in 1936, and did not object at that time to the Nazi salute given by German athletes.

Smith and Carlos, and their families, received death threats from some Americans. But they are remembered and honored by people throughout the world.

The photo of Smith and Carlos giving the Black Power salute was so powerful, it has been memorialized in other forms of art. There is a statute of the two men that was created and dedicated at San Jose University. Murals of the photo have been painted on a residence in Australia, titled "Three Proud People 1968." The third man on the medal stand wore a human rights badge in support of Smith and Carlos.

Both Smith and Carlos received the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage in 2008.

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