A Cultural Statement by Christain Pierre Jury

A Cultural Statement

by Christain Pierre Jury

 

The 1968 Olympics in Mexico delivered unforgettable performances that have made an important mark on the black community. Tommie Smith and John Carlos are two of the most influential African-Americans in not only black culture, but Olympic history as well. These two icons gave the struggling black community something to pride itself on, unity. In a time when the African-American culture had been repeatedly brought down, mocked, and ridiculed, the gesture of the Black Power Salute brought the black community closer together.201010140744

Tommie Smith won gold setting a world record, breaking the twenty second barrier. An Australian named Peter Norman placed second and John Carlos finishing third was the running order of the two hundred meter dash. As if two black athletes that somehow managed to get into the Olympics were not bad enough, one placed in first and the other in third. Already being a racially divided “nation”, a great deal of people did not like the idea of having two African-Americans representing the United States in the Olympics. However, Smith and Carlos were determined to make a statement that day. After the race, the three went to the podium to receive their medals. Once the U.S. National Anthem, Tommie Smith and John Carlos bowed their heads and raised their fists high in the air signifying “Black Power”.

The “protest” sparked major controversy throughout the media. The International Olympic committee went as far as demanding the removal of the entire U.S. team from the Olympics because the salute was unfit for the Olympic spirit. Two black men raising their fists in the air to acknowledge the African-American race was inappropriate, however the United States Olympic Committee made no remarks toward the countless Nazi salutes that took place throughout the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The Black Power salute that signifies struggle and unity within the black community was viewed as more offensive than the Nazi salute that gratified Adolf Hitler. Yet, the committee felt Smith and Carlos should be punished for their actions. As they walked off the podium, the crowd roared with boos and racial slurs. Smith and Carlos were both suspended from their national team and banned from the Olympic Village. The athletes’ were also sent home during the games. The gesture made front page news around the world.

What is less known, is that Peter Norman was in full support of the statement Tommie Smith and John Carlos displayed. On the way out to the medal ceremony, Norman saw the badge of the Olympic Project for Human Rights being worn by Paul Hoffman, a white member of the US Rowing Team, and asked him if he could wear it. It was also Norman who suggested that Smith and Carlos share the black gloves used in their salute, after Carlos left his gloves in the Olympic Village. Australia’s Olympic authorities disciplined him and the Australian media hated him; Norman was also banned for two years on his return. Norman died of a heart attack on October 3, 2006. U.S. Track and Field Federation proclaimed October 9, 2006, the date of his funeral, as Peter Norman Day. Thirty-eight years after the three made history, both Smith and Carlos gave eulogies and were pallbearers at Norman’s funeral.

Those that opposed the protest cried out that the actions were militant and disgraced Americans. However, supporters were moved by the duo’s actions and praised them for their bravery. At the press conference after the games Smith stated, “”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.” The significance of the medal ceremony was much deeper than some realized; each piece of their clothing represented something unique. Smith and Carlos received their medals in black socks, placing their shoes to the side, signifying black poverty. While Smith wore and black scarf that represented black pride, Carlos unzipped his tracksuit jacket showing unity with the blue collar workers in the U.S. as well as a necklace of beads that embodied those who were lynched, killed, tarred, and those that were thrown off of the boats in the middle passage.

Once Smith and Carlos came home to the U.S., the torment became worse. They faced abuse every day. Some people even went as far as sending death threats to them and their family members. It showed how vast the racial tension toward Smith and Carlos, especially since they were famous which pinned a much larger target amongst them. Nevertheless, the gain that the salute Tommie Smith and John Carlos presented exceeded the losses. The unity of the African-American race grew stronger and fought harder to liberate segregation in the United States. The strength of The Black Power Salute came from the fact that both men had directly suffered from the inequalities they were opposing; they knew the pressures surrounding them and defiantly stood their ground. It was a historic and heartbreaking year that involved the assassinations of both Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy before Christmas. Conditions in many poverty stricken black communities were deplorable.

The message that Tommie Smith and John Carlos provided to the world was clear, discrimination would not prosper. The movement started by two athletes with one gesture, was soon carried on by the entire black community to let the world know race is irrelevant; equality is equity. As a result, the two were granted countless medals and inductions to into places like the National Track and Field Hall of Fame and the California Black Sports Hall of Fame. There is a dedicated statue that shows Smith, Carlos, and Norman on the medal stand on the campus of San Jose State University. Tommie Smith and John Carlos are two of the most iconic and influential athletes in history for their righteousness and fearlessness to stand up to the whole world so that their voice was heard

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Christain Pierre Jury

March 13, 2012

English 1A – Korson

A Cultural Statement

The 1968 Olympics in Mexico delivered unforgettable performances that have made an important mark on the black community. Tommie Smith and John Carlos are two of the most influential African-Americans in not only black culture, but Olympic history as well. These two icons gave the struggling black community something to pride itself on, unity. In a time when the African-American culture had been repeatedly brought down, mocked, and ridiculed, the gesture of the Black Power Salute brought the black community closer together.

Tommie Smith won gold setting a world record, breaking the twenty second barrier. An Australian named Peter Norman placed second and John Carlos finishing third was the running order of the two hundred meter dash. As if two black athletes that somehow managed to get into the Olympics were not bad enough, one placed in first and the other in third. Already being a racially divided “nation”, a great deal of people did not like the idea of having two African-Americans representing the United States in the Olympics. However, Smith and Carlos were determined to make a statement that day. After the race, the three went to the podium to receive their medals. Once the U.S. National Anthem, Tommie Smith and John Carlos bowed their heads and raised their fists high in the air signifying “Black Power”.

The “protest” sparked major controversy throughout the media. The International Olympic committee went as far as demanding the removal of the entire U.S. team from the Olympics because the salute was unfit for the Olympic spirit. Two black men raising their fists in the air to acknowledge the African-American race was inappropriate, however the United States Olympic Committee made no remarks toward the countless Nazi salutes that took place throughout the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The Black Power salute that signifies struggle and unity within the black community was viewed as more offensive than the Nazi salute that gratified Adolf Hitler. Yet, the committee felt Smith and Carlos should be punished for their actions. As they walked off the podium, the crowd roared with boos and racial slurs. Smith and Carlos were both suspended from their national team and banned from the Olympic Village. The athletes’ were also sent home during the games. The gesture made front page news around the world.

What is less known, is that Peter Norman was in full support of the statement Tommie Smith and John Carlos displayed. On the way out to the medal ceremony, Norman saw the badge of the Olympic Project for Human Rights being worn by Paul Hoffman, a white member of the US Rowing Team, and asked him if he could wear it. It was also Norman who suggested that Smith and Carlos share the black gloves used in their salute, after Carlos left his gloves in the Olympic Village. Australia’s Olympic authorities disciplined him and the Australian media hated him; Norman was also banned for two years on his return. Norman died of a heart attack on October 3, 2006. U.S. Track and Field Federation proclaimed October 9, 2006, the date of his funeral, as Peter Norman Day. Thirty-eight years after the three made history, both Smith and Carlos gave eulogies and were pallbearers at Norman’s funeral.

Those that opposed the protest cried out that the actions were militant and disgraced Americans. However, supporters were moved by the duo’s actions and praised them for their bravery. At the press conference after the games Smith stated, “”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.” The significance of the medal ceremony was much deeper than some realized; each piece of their clothing represented something unique. Smith and Carlos received their medals in black socks, placing their shoes to the side, signifying black poverty. While Smith wore and black scarf that represented black pride, Carlos unzipped his tracksuit jacket showing unity with the blue collar workers in the U.S. as well as a necklace of beads that embodied those who were lynched, killed, tarred, and those that were thrown off of the boats in the middle passage.

Once Smith and Carlos came home to the U.S., the torment became worse. They faced abuse every day. Some people even went as far as sending death threats to them and their family members. It showed how vast the racial tension toward Smith and Carlos, especially since they were famous which pinned a much larger target amongst them. Nevertheless, the gain that the salute Tommie Smith and John Carlos presented exceeded the losses. The unity of the African-American race grew stronger and fought harder to liberate segregation in the United States. The strength of The Black Power Salute came from the fact that both men had directly suffered from the inequalities they were opposing; they knew the pressures surrounding them and defiantly stood their ground. It was a historic and heartbreaking year that involved the assassinations of both Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy before Christmas. Conditions in many poverty stricken black communities were deplorable.

The message that Tommie Smith and John Carlos provided to the world was clear, discrimination would not prosper. The movement started by two athletes with one gesture, was soon carried on by the entire black community to let the world know race is irrelevant; equality is equity. As a result, the two were granted countless medals and inductions to into places like the National Track and Field Hall of Fame and the California Black Sports Hall of Fame. There is a dedicated statue that shows Smith, Carlos, and Norman on the medal stand on the campus of San Jose State University. Tommie Smith and John Carlos are two of the most iconic and influential athletes in history for their righteousness and fearlessness to stand up to the whole world so that their voice was heard

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About The Gritz

Ideally I aspire to be a Tyranny of Business and perspective. I cant tell you descriptively how I feel... so I'll tell you the depths of my thought. thanks for reading. https://thegritz.wordpress.com

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