gal_olympics.jpg Black Power
Imagine being raised as a diminutive child and in your future you would become an icon to the world, by the raise of your fist. Two young men, Tommie Smith and John Carlos changed the whole nation by their racial protest and civil obedience. They both would raise awareness for unfair treatment and justice.
In 1968, the Olympics were held in Mexico City, Mexico. Tommie Smith and John Carlos were competing to race in the world 200 meter race. Tommie Smith finished in first place and had set a new world record with 19.83 seconds, with Australia’s Peter Norman second with a time of 20.07 seconds, and John Carlos finishing third with a time of 20.10 seconds. After the race was finished, they walked to the podium to receive their medals. Walking to the podium, both world class athletes wore black socks but did not wear their shoes to show black poverty. Tommie wore a black scarf to represent black pride and John had worn his track suit unzipped to show solidarity to all blue collar workers in the U.S and a necklace of beads which he described “were for those individuals that were lynched or killed and that no one said a prayer for, that were hung and tarred. It was for those thrown off the side of the boats in the middle passage.” And when the national anthem song had begun, they raised their hands with black gloves on to represent black power. By the raise of their fists, they were calling for justice and equality to the black people. Through civil disobedience, they were kicked off the USA track team and banned from the Olympic village.
Henry Edwards, a friend of both athletes wanted to boycott the Olympic game’s by all black athletes. His organization, Olympic Projects for Human Rights, (OPHR) gained much reputation, but never materialized. Tommie and John were inspired and did their protest of their own at the Olympics. The 1960’s many blacks faced racial discrimination and inequality of justice. Malcolm X, a human rights activist became one of the most influential African Americans in history because he advocated for blacks rights and freedom. Martin Luther King Jr. said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Tommie and John raised awareness for their unfair justice and treatment for the black community and awakened America to change.
Tommie Smith and John Carlos returned to their homes and were threatened everyday of their lives. They would receive death threats to their home and faced unemployment most of their lives. Both young athletes are inspiring and influential to many because they were courageous and took a great stand for what they had believed in. But their stand was also for the silenced people who died or received inequality in America. Many blacks witnessing their protest were proud to be an African American. Smith later said "If I win, I am American, not a black American. But if I did something bad, then they would say I am a Negro. We are black and we are proud of being black. Black America will understand what we did tonight." By the raise of their fists, he changed the perspective of America.
Both athletes took a great stand to show what they believed in and who they were. Their racial protest is an icon to many around the world and historic. By the raise of their fists, they showed through no violence they were able to change America. J