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Olympian Tommie Smith taught me more about racism and white privilege than any person I ever knew. He was a strong athelete, excellent student, wonderful singer and a real gentleman. When he raised his fist in the Black Power salute, I was in awe of his bravery. Because of what he did, I truly began to educate myself about stereotyping, discrimination and racism. I still admire him to this day.
Thank you for republishing that incredible picture. It is still one of the most powerful and moving photographs of the times and reminds me of how much I learned and experienced then.
from Wikipedia: In the 200 m medal award ceremony, two African-American athletes Tommie Smith (gold) and John Carlos (bronze) raised their black-gloved fists as a symbol of Black Power. As punishment, the InternationalOlympic Committee banned them from the Olympic Games for life.
IMO, the international olympic committee was wrong.
"W hat's so wrong with peace, love and understanding?" ~~Elvis Costello
I was one of the original YIPPIES! and worked in the office (yes, we had an office). 1968 was a busy year for me. I originally left college (U of Md) in fall of '67 right after the protest at the Pentagon and drove to NYC where I worked with the Student Mobilization and Fifth Avenue Peace Parade Committee, War Resisters League, and CCNV. I was at the first meeting to form the YIPPIES! in January 1968. I remember being arrested in the Math Building at Columbia University after a week of living there. In the same room with me at the building was Norman Mailer's daughter. We had pushed a big table against the door(which opened inward) and snugged up to the opposite wall. The cops tried to open the door first with their hands, then with an ax. This ax came flying through the small hole they managed to create into the room! We ducked and left it lying there on the table. Somehow, they could not reach to doorknob. This, of course, could not be opened. We had stuffed towels under the door and watched as they slowly pulled them out. Thinking that they would throw teargas at us, we had the trashcans filled with water and wet bandanas around our mouth and nose. Finally, they took the door off by tearing off the door jamb. In they climbed! We were terrified but courageous. The table obstruction was removed and we were removed one by one with punches to our stomachs, faces, and other areas of our bodies.
I was thrown into the police van along with a number of other females and taken down to the holding cells at Centre Street. There were 45 of us in a cell for 15 - a little crowded. The weird thing was that the black and the whites separated themselves - I was inbetween them! And was the only one who had previously been in jail for protests. They all had questions. The Barnard had their parents to bail them out. Not me. I was arraigned the next day and released on my recognizance. I remember that I had given them the names of Mayor's aides as personal references. I was charged with loitering and criminal trespassing and kept repeating to myself as I faced a year in jail "they can't take me away from me". This kept me strong. Eventually the charges were dropped. This was only one of my memories from that year.