16 October, 2005

Wayback machine - Black Power salute at the Olympics

Donutball remembers and pays tribute:

16 October, 1968. Mexico City. 200 metre gold medallist Tommie Smith and bronze medallist John Carlos stand on the podium and give the Black Power salute.

Colour picture here.

Professor Harry Edwards [professor of sociology at San Jose State university, and friend of Tommie Smith] set up the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR) and appealed to all black American athletes to boycott the games to demonstrate to the world that the civil rights movement in the US had not gone far enough.

He told black Americans they should refuse "to be utilised as 'performing animals' in the games."

Although the [Edwards' proposed] boycott never materialised the OPHR gained much support from black athletes around the world.

On the podium with Smith and Carlos, silver medallist Peter Norman of Australia supported the two by wearing an ORHR badge.

Thirty-seven years on, Smith and Carlos's brave stance still has great poignancy.

If sport and politics don't mix, then sport exists in some fictional bubble.


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