By DAVE ZIRIN*
Olympic Project for Human Rights button, worn by activist athletes in the 1968 Olympic games, originally called for a boycott of the 1968 Olympic Games. The iconic photo appears in many history textbooks, stripped of the story of the planned boycott and demands, creating the appearance of a solitary act of defiance.
It has been almost 44 years since Tommie Smith and John Carlos took the medal stand following the 200-meter dash at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City and created what must be considered the most enduring, riveting image in the history of either sports or protest. But while the image has stood the test of time, the struggle that led to that moment has been cast aside. Continue reading
John Carlos is best known as the man who, along with Tommie Smith, raised a clenched fist—the Black Power salute—on the medal stand after the 200 metre race. Carlos took bronze, and Smith gold, at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. But that moment was a culmination of months of political discussion among black leaders in America. One such discussion happened in early 1968 in New York City. Carlos explains, in a section excerpted from The John Carlos Story, written with Dave Zirin.
I recall going down to the Americano that evening, walking into the lobby and being just overwhelmed by the size of it all. I had never really made time in the downtown Manhattan hotels and my eyes almost popped out of my head. It looked like a movie set, with 50-foot-high ceilings, gaudy chandeliers, and the kind of deep, smoky woodwork that looked like it had been carved and sanded for kings. It crossed my mind that I’d turn the corner and bump into John Dillinger. I gathered myself and I went up to the room where the meeting was to take place. Continue reading