October 16, 2018 – Today marks the 50th Anniversary of a moment in history when two American athletes stood-up in protest at the 1968 Olympic Games, during the Medal-Award ceremony. Their “human rights salute” is regarded as one of the most overtly political statements ever in the history of the modern Olympic Games.
Protesting athletes? This sounds so familiar, considering the recent exploits of Colin Kaepernick et al.
This one episode – this moment – was actually a forerunner for conducting protests and forging change today. It was part-and-parcel of the tumultuous year that 1968 proved to be.
This was not just an American issue. This affected the whole world. After all, this was the Olympics. In addition, one of the protesting athletes, John Carlos, was of Caribbean (Cuban) Roots.
Today, we are presenting an Encore of the profile of John Carlos, depicting his role in this episode in history. See this previous blog-commentary from March 10, 2017 here-now:
Go Lean Commentary – Caribbean Roots: John Carlos – The Man. The Moment. The Movement
The title: “The Man. The Moment. The Movement” is more than just a catch-phrase, its a recipe for successfully transforming society.
Do you remember this Sports Moment That Changed the World?
It was at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Despite all the attempts by the organizers to keep the Games apolitical and free-of-conflict, the Moment got political and conflicted … and impactful. This was when the Man, John Carlos, the bronze-medal winner in the 200 meters at the 1968 Summer Olympics gave his Black Power salute on the podium with gold-medalist Tommie Smith; this galvanized the Movement – the Civil Rights Movement in general and the Olympic Project for Human Rights in particular. The Movement caused a lot of controversy.
What is not known about this moment is that this Man, John Carlos, has Caribbean roots.
We are so proud!
Consider his biography reference here:
Title: John Carlos
John Wesley Carlos (born June 5, 1945) is an American former track and field athlete and professional football player. He was the bronze-medal winner in the 200 meters at the 1968 Summer Olympics and his Black Power salute on the podium with Tommie Smith caused much political controversy. He went on to tie the world record in the 100 yard dash and beat the 200 meters world record (although the latter achievement was never certified). After his track career, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Canadian Football League but retired due to injury.
He became involved with the United States Olympic Committee and helped to organize the 1984 Summer Olympics. Following this he became a track coach at Palm SpringsHigh School. He was inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame in 2003.
He is the author, with sportswriter Dave Zirin, of The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World, published in 2011 by Haymarket Books.
Early life and education
Born in Harlem, New York, to Cuban parents, John Carlos was a gifted high school athlete and outstanding student who went on to study at East Texas State University on a full track-and-field scholarship. His victories in the 100- and 200-meter dash and as a member of the 4×400-meter relay helped lead ETSU to the 1967 Lone Star Conference Championship. After his first year, Carlos enrolled at San Jose State University where he was trained by future National Track & Field Hall of Fame coach, Lloyd (Bud) Winter.
Carlos was awarded an honorary doctorate from CaliforniaStateUniversity in 2008. In 2012, he was awarded honorary doctorates from his alma maters Texas A&M University-Commerce (formerly EastTexasStateUniversity) and San Jose State University.
At the 1968 Olympic Trials, Carlos won the 200-meter dash in 19.92 seconds, beating world-record holder Tommie Smith and surpassing his record by 0.3 seconds. Though the record was never ratified because the spike formation on Carlos’ shoes (“brush spikes”) was not accepted at the time, the race reinforced his status as a world-class sprinter.
Carlos became a founding member of the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR), and originally advocated a boycott of the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games unless four conditions were met: withdrawal of South Africa and Rhodesia from the games, restoration of Muhammad Ali’s world heavyweight boxing title, Avery Brundage to step down as president of the IOC, and the hiring of more African-American assistant coaches. As the boycott failed to achieve support after the IOC withdrew invitations for South Africa and Rhodesia, he decided, together with Smith, to participate but to stage a protest in case he received a medal. Following his third-place finish behind fellow American Smith and Australian Peter Norman in the 200 at the Mexico Olympics, Carlos and Smith made headlines around the world by raising their black-gloved fists at the medal award ceremony. Both athletes wore black socks and no shoes on the podium to represent African-American poverty in the United States. In support, Peter Norman, the silver medalist who was a white athlete from Australia, participated in the protest by wearing an OPHR badge.
IOC president Avery Brundage deemed a political statement unfit for the apolitical, international forum the Olympic Games was supposed to be. In an immediate response to their actions, he ordered Smith and Carlos suspended from the U.S. team and banned from the Olympic Village. Many supporters, however, praised the men for their bravery. The men’s gesture had lingering effects for all three athletes, the most serious of which were death threats against Carlos, Smith, and their families. Although it has been reported that Carlos and Smith were stripped of their medals, Carlos has indicated this is not true and his medal is with his mother.
Carlos had his greatest year in track and field in 1969, equaling the world 100-yard record of 9.1, winning the AAU 220-yard run, and leading San JoseState to its first NCAA championship with victories in the 100 and 220 and as a member of the 4×110-yard relay. He was featured on the cover of Track and Field News‘ May 1969 issue.
Source: Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia – Retrieved March 8, 2017 from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Carlos
This biography should go back further to include John Carlos’s Cuban-Caribbean heritage, that of his father:
John Carlos is of Cuban descent and can understand Spanish. His father, Earl Carlos Sr., was a businessman (a cobbler or shoe repair) and World War I Veteran [fighting for the US]. He was a man proud of his appearance in all circumstances and carried himself in a dignified way. He had to work hard from an early age (like most African-American children of his era, especially in the South of the country) and his parents were born as slaves; [(slavery ended in Cuba in 1886 and he was born in 1895)]. When he participated in World War I, he got wounded and received the Medal of Citation Award for his stoicism on the battlefield. When he returned back home, he had to face racial hatred, economic discrimination, the Roaring Twenties, the Stock Market Crash in 1929, the Dust Bowl in the mid-thirties and World War II. Despite the difficulties, he never became bitter. He met his future wife, Vioris Lawrence (an African-American woman), in 1941, who was later John Carlos’ mother. – MegaDiversities.
This was quite a legacy to absorb. John Carlos had the molding from his proud Cuban father, who left a segregated Cuba and emigrated for a better life in the metropolitan area of New York. Harlem – think Harlem Renaissance – was a better place to be a Black Man than the Jim Crow South or the minority-ruled Cuba. When he stood in defiance in that Moment in 1968, John Carlos was protesting the blatant racism that he experienced and his father before him – Earl Carlos died later, in May 1969. The Movement to uplift oppressed people had began on the global stage, but the Black Power salute was a local action in solidarity with all those oppressed before and after this Moment. He understood that ‘Sport and Politics’ are intrinsically linked, whether right or wrong.
The movement behind the book Go Lean … Caribbean recognizes the significance of that Moment and the stage for its execution, the celebrated Olympic Games. The Go Lean book applauds the struggle for Civil Rights and the dynamics of sports. It posits that sports can foster a great influence – and even wealth – in modern society. See this in Appendix B VIDEO.
The sportsman can “rule in people’s hearts”. People marvel at their athletic prowess – billions may be watching on live or tape-delayed TV broadcasts – the participants can forge a positive image and wield power and influence; think:
We can add John Carlos and Tommie Smith to that list.
This Moment was in 1968; that was a pivotal year, so many things happened, mostly bad; consider this sample:
- Martin Luther King was assassinated, April 4
- Robert Kennedy was assassinated, June 6
- Vietnam War Protests – Summer
- Chicano (Hispanic) Movement and Red Power (Native Americans) Movement Summer Protests
- Mexico City Olympics – October 12 – 27
- James Brown song: Say it loud: “I’m Black and I’m Proud”
According to John Carlos, in a recent interview describing the disposition on the ground there in Mexico City: “it was high tension, drama, a powder keg … prior to the Olympics there was a massacre that killed hundreds of young activists”.
That was 1968 … all around; consider the experience of one Californian “back in that day”:
1968 was an exciting time for me. I think it was when my activism was born. Before that time things were pretty rosy. Even though I knew about the [Black] Panthers and had seen Dr. [Martin Luther] King, living in LA you were kind of removed. I do remember expressing a desire to join the Freedom Rides, but my Pastor said ‘No’.
1968 was [when] my friends were coming home from Vietnam or refusing to go.
I remember loaning my boyfriend $$ to go to Philly to go before the Draft Board to argue as a Conscientious Objector. He won and we were so happy.
I remember the day Dr. King was killed and going that night to a service with friends. I remember being so sad and being glued to the TV.
I remember the horror of Bobby Kennedy being killed. I was at work and heard the news.
I remember being so proud of Tommy Smith and John Carlos at the Olympics.
My living room had two posters. One of them on the stand with the black gloved fists held high and the other was [Black Panther Party co-founder] Huey Newton sitting in that Peacock Chair.
Those were the days when I was very active in the Watts Summer Festival. Tommy Jacquette, the founder, was a friend, and we all gathered together to make the event a success. …
I would say that 1968 was the year that I became the person I am today. – Bunny Withers, Los Angeles.
The reality of human rights abuses in America in 1968 was bad, worse or dire – those were the only options. The Black community was far from being treated as equal citizens in that society. But truth be told, other minority groups in the country also experienced oppression, repression and suppression. America was the greatest country on the planet for those that qualified; those that were:
White, Anglo-Saxon, Rich, Male and Straight
Anyone else – everyone else – needed civil rights empowerments.
Fortunately, this is not the conditions of the America of today. It is now a better place to live, work and play. How did this society go from “there to here”?
It took the strenuous efforts of advocates: individuals – Men and Women – and organizations, exploiting Moments and Movements for maximum exposure. They appealed to the public, appealed to their better nature. John Carlos was one such individual.
The third person on the dais, silver medalist Peter Norman of Australia, can also be classified as an advocate fighting to assuage human rights abuses – he also wore a badge of the Olympic Project for Human Rights – he was in solidarity with Smith and Carlos. See the profile VIDEO on his activities in Appendix A below.
The Caribbean has a problem today that we did not have back in 1968. The majority populations of the Caribbean region is/was Black-and-Brown. America was not inviting to this demographic, so our people rarely immigrated to the US. Now with the above-referenced civil rights empowerments, America is now a more fair society for all people. Our Caribbean people now “beat down their doors” to flee to America, and other places – Go Lean book Page 3.
The US is now a “frienemy” for us! We are trading partners; we are aligned; we are allies; many of our students studied there; many of our Diaspora live there. We now have to compete to dissuade our young people from setting their sights on American shores as a refuge and destination of their hopes and dreams. No society can survive with a high abandonment rate – the book Go Lean … Caribbean reports that 70% brain drain rate among our professional populations.
We are failing and need advocates of our own.
We need new role models, with the courage of John Carlos, to help us “battle” against the “push-and-pull” factors that draw many Caribbean citizens away from home to the US. We need Men to seize the Moment and advance this Movement.
The Go Lean movement pursues the quest to elevate the Caribbean region through empowerments in economics, security and governance. Since 29 of the 30 Caribbean member-states (“St. Barths” is the only exception) have majority Black populations, the book pushes further on this subject of racism, positing that it is easier for Caribbean citizens to stay home and effect change in their homelands than to go to America and try to remediate that society. The book therefore asserts that the region can turn-around from failing assessments by applying best-practices, and forging new societal institutions to impact the Greater Good for all the Caribbean.
The Go Lean book posits that sports – individual achievements and the business of sports – can greatly impact society; in addition to the entertainment value, there is also national pride, image and impression. People can override many false precepts with sporting excellence by great role models.
The book Go Lean…Caribbean serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU), a technocratic federal government designed to administer and optimize the economic-security-governing engines of the region’s 30 member-states. This is highlighted by these 3 prime directives:
- Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy; creating 2.2 million new jobs and expanding the regional GDP to $800 Billion.
- Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
- Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines.
At the outset, the roadmap recognizes our crisis and the value of sports in the roadmap, with these statements in the Declaration of Interdependence (Page 13 & 14):
xix. Whereas our legacy in recent times is one of societal abandonment, it is imperative that incentives and encouragement be put in place to first dissuade the human flight, and then entice and welcome the return of our Diaspora back to our shores. This repatriation should be effected with the appropriate guards so as not to imperil the lives and securities of the repatriated citizens or the communities they inhabit. The right of repatriation is to be extended to any natural born citizens despite any previous naturalization to foreign sovereignties.
xxvi. Whereas the preparation of our labor force can foster opportunities and dictate economic progress for current and future generations, the Federation must ensure that educational and job training opportunities are fully optimized for all residents of all member-states, with no partiality towards any gender or ethnic group. The Federation must recognize and facilitate excellence in many different fields of endeavor, including sciences, languages, arts, music and sports. This responsibility should be executed without incurring the risks of further human flight, as has been the past history.
xxxi. Whereas sports have been a source of great pride for the Caribbean region, the economic returns from these ventures have not been evenly distributed as in other societies. The Federation must therefore facilitate the eco-systems and vertical industries of sports as a business, recreation, national pastime and even sports tourism – modeling the Olympics.
The Go Lean roadmap calls for the market organizations to better garner the economic benefits of sports. One of the biggest contributions the CU will make is the facilitation of sports venues: arenas and stadia. As described in a previous blog-commentary, sports can be big business! And even when money is not involved, other benefits abound: educational scholarships, fitness/wellness, disciplined activities for the youth, image, and pride. No doubt an intangible yet important benefits is depicted in this Go Lean roadmap, that of less societal abandonment.
The movement behind the Go Lean book salute those ones from our past who left their Caribbean homelands for better opportunities abroad; we salute their legacies (foreign-born children) as well. We know that there are “new” athletes who are just waiting to be discovered and fostered throughout the Caribbean member-states. We salute these ones as our future, and pledge to do better to keep them here at home. The book details the community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to allow Caribbean people to prosper where they are planted.
In terms of salute, it is appropriate to salute Vioris Louise Lawrence Carlos – the mother of John Carlos. She just recently passed-away, on December 12, 2016, at age 97. This blessed woman’s contributions and life course help to mold the life and legacy of 5 children – including John Carlos – and a whole community.
Previous Go Lean blog-commentaries that identified other sports role models for our consideration:
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=8495||NBA Greatness and Caribbean Roots: Tim Duncan Retires|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2222||Sports Role Model – Playing For Pride … And More|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=1020||Sports Revolutionary: Advocate Jeffrey Webb|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=498||Caribbean Sport Excellence due to ‘The Sports Gene’|
In addition, these other Go Lean blog-commentaries have identified other role models with Caribbean roots:
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=10609||Caribbean Roots: Cast of ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=10114||Esther Rolle – Caribbean Roots|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=9948||Sammy Davis, Jr. – Caribbean Roots|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=8724||Remembering Marcus Garvey: A Role Model; Still Relevant Today|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=8619||Clive Campbell – Jamaican Innovation for Hip Hop|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=8328||YouTube Role Model with Caribbean Roots: ‘Tipsy Bartender’|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2726||Caribbean Role Model – Oscar De La Renta – RIP|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=866||Caribbean Musical Icon and Role Model: Bob Marley|
The world is a better place, sports-wise and arts-wise, because of Caribbean contributions. Thank you to all past, present and future athletes and contributors.
Not to be overlooked, but the same as the US had a Climate of Hate in 1968, we have our own societal defects in the Caribbean region today. We cannot claim enlightenment to the achievements of advocates like John Carlos and have a blind eye” to our own “ills”. So let’s stand-up as a Proud People and force our own communities to change. Let’s make our Caribbean homeland a better place to live, work and play. 🙂
Sign the petition to lean-in for the roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.
APPENDIX A VIDEO – The Story Behind The White Guy In This Historic Photo – https://youtu.be/t4LvwXYmt3Q
Published on Oct 31, 2015 – In 1968 there was a powerful moment of protest at the Olympic games when two winners put on black gloves to protest what was happening in the country during the civil rights era. Most people don’t know the story of the silver medalist, Peter Norman. Cenk Uygur, host of the The Young Turks, breaks it down. Tell us what you think in the comment section below.
“In an act as appropriate as it is overdue, the Australian House of Parliament is issuing an official state apology Monday to the country’s late, great sprinter Peter Norman. Norman won the 200-meter silver medal at the 1968 Olympics, but that’s not why he’s either remembered or owed apologies. After the race, gold and bronze medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos bowed their heads and raised their fists on the medal stand and started an international firestorm. Many see the iconic image and assume Norman was just a bystander to history, or as he would joke, “the white guy.” But he was standing in full solidarity with Smith and Carlos, wearing a patch on his chest that reads, “Olympic Project for Human Rights.”
Read more here: https://www.thenation.com/article/aus…
Disclaimer: The Young Turks is an online video talk show that provides commentary on news and opinion articles. Often times these articles come from sources outside of our organization. Where possible, we do our best to research and verify various sources before reporting. Content created by third parties is the sole responsibility of the third parties and its accuracy and completeness are not endorsed or guaranteed.
UPDATE to story: http://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/j…
- Category: News & Politics
- License: Standard YouTube License
APPENDIX B VIDEO – THREE PROUD PEOPLE (Mural project) Tommy Smith, Peter Norman, John Carlos – https://youtu.be/xHcasP4HOo0
Uploaded on May 17, 2009 – This mural was put up about 6 weeks prior to the opening ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic games. It could be viewed from the McDonaldtown train station platform and from trains travelling past. Trains travel from central Sydney to the Homebush Olympic venue past this mural. As of a few years ago, the mural can no longer be seen from the tracks due to a city rail concrete sound barrier that has been installed.
Peter Norman was repremanded for his part in the action. Peter, in solidarity, wore the Olympic project for human rights badge, which defied the code of conduct. He also came up with the idea of Smith and Carlos each wearing one black glove from the same pair. All three of these guys were very couragous.
- Category: Education
- License: Standard YouTube License