August 18, 2017

A Moment in Black History: Tommie Smith, Peter Norman, and John Carlos

Peter Norman, Tommie Smith, and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics

Peter Norman, Tommie Smith, and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics

 For many people, Tommie Smith and John Carlos were just supposed to be entertainers who dazzled us with their speed. But with shoe-less feet, Human Rights Badges on their track suits, black gloved fists, and a long chain of beads around the neck, Tommie and John told the world that Black Lives Matter.

In sock-clad feet, they stood in solidarity with poor Blacks in America. With fists held high, they showed the great strength and determination of their people. And each bead on the necklace reminded the world of the countless black men and women who were once bound by chains, lynched by mobs and never made it through the middle passage.

But today’s story for Black History Month would be incomplete if we did not also recognize the courage demonstrated by Peter Norman – the white guy on the podium. He’s wearing the same Human Rights badge that adorns Tommie and John’s jackets. He intentionally stood in solidarity, and that intentionality ultimately cost him his running career.

So, today we salute all three men: brave souls who understood the power of symbolism.

#blacklivesmatter #blackhistorymonth #athleteswithconviction

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