Black Power Salute

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  • Topic: Olympic Games, 1968 Olympics Black Power salute, Avery Brundage
  • Pages : 5 (1958 words )
  • Download(s) : 68
  • Published : June 5, 2011
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The Olympics are held every four years and are used as a global stage for many thousands of sportsmen and women who come from many different countries around the world to demonstrate their abilities ranging from running to rowing. In theory, the Olympic Games are supposed to be free from any politics and be purely about the athlete’s competition and celebrations. It is supposed to be non-gender, non-religion and non-race biased to show the accomplishment of the athletes that compete. Sporting officials are also supposed to be un-biased offering equal opportunities to all athletes. In the 1968 Olympic Games held in Mexico City, this was not the case as two black American athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos made a silent political protest on October 17 against racial discrimination after they received their medals on the stadium. They were gold and bronze medalists in the 200 meters. They both stood with heads bowed and a black-gloved hand raised as well as both wearing black socks with no shoes on the stadium. Both men were demonstrating against an ongoing racial discrimination of black people in the United States and for Civil Rights. “Smith has also been quoted as saying he raised his fist to represent black power within America, while Carlos raised his left fist to represent black unity.   United together they formed an arch of unity and power.” The backlash was immediate and very far ranging. When the national Anthem had finished and the athletes were walking off the podium they were booed by many people in the crowd. Many of these people believed that this international sporting event should be free from politics and be solely about the sport and its accomplishments. To the people in the crowd, this would be seen as a disgrace to all Americans. Tommie Smith and John Carlos would then become the subject of much criticism because of their actions. For example, Time magazine showed the Olympic logo with words, “Angrier, Nastier, Uglier”, instead of “Faster, Higher, Stronger”. In the first paragraph of the article, it went on to say “public display of petulance that sparked one of the most unpleasant controversies in Olympic history and turned the high drama of the games into theater of the absurd.” Once back home, they would receive death threats. The official International Olympic Committee website is quoted as saying “Over and above winning medals, the black American athletes made names for them by an act of racial protest.” Bob Seagren, who won a gold medal in the pole vault, commented “It was kind of cheap of them. If it wasn’t for the United States they wouldn’t have been there. I don’t think it was very proper. If they don’t like the United States, they can always leave.” This was also the opinion that many Americans had of the two athletes after what had occurred. But other U.S. athletes, both black and white, rallied to the defense of Smith and Carlos. “’This is terrible, awful,’ said High jumper Ed Caruthers, a Negro. ‘If Tommie and John have to go home,’ said Sprinter Ron Freeman, ‘I think there will be a lot of guys going home.’ ‘Some white ones too,’ added Hammer Thrower Harold Connolly.” Athlete Lee Evans was so shaken by this that he had to be helped onto a bus that was bound for the stadium. Both athletes were subsequently expelled from the team and sent home in disgrace by the US Olympic committee being “only allowed them to retain their medals so they could count against the Russians on the final scoreboard” Their salute was described as “Nazi-like” and compared to “black skinned storm troopers”. Accused of belonging to the Black Panther group, they were sent home in disgrace. During a press conference held after the event, the athletes were given a chance to explain and defend their action of protest. Tommie Smith commented “If I win I am an American, not a black American. But if I did something bad then they would say ‘a negro’. We are black and we are proud of being black. Black America will...
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