HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO LEGENDARY, TOMMIE SMITH!
Tommie Smith is a former track & field athlete and wide receiver in the American Football League. At the 1968 Summer Olympics, Smith won the 200-meter dash finals in 19.83 seconds – the 1st time the 20 second barrier was broken. His Black Power salute with John Carlos atop the medal podium caused controversy at the time as it was seen as politicizing the Olympic Games. It remains a symbolic moment in the history of the American Civil Rights Movement.
✊Tommie Smith is featured in the 1999 HBO documentary “Fists of Freedom: The Story of the ’68 Summer Games.” The documentary looks at events leading up to, during and after the 1968 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City, featuring interviews with athletes, including Tommie Smith, John Carlos and George Foreman, activist Dr. Harry Edwards (sociologist), journalists and archival footage of the Games and the fallout after the raised fisted gloves by Carlos and Smith.
✊”We were not Antichrists. We were just human beings who saw a need to bring attention to the inequality in our country. I don’t like the idea of people looking at it as negative. There was nothing but a raised fist in the air and a bowed head, acknowledging the American flag – not symbolizing a hatred for it.”
✊For his lifelong commitment to athletics, education, and human rights following his silent gesture of protest at the ’68 Olympics in Mexico City, Smith received the Courage of Conscience Award from The Peace Abbey in Sherborn, Massachusetts.
✊An airbrush mural of the trio on podium exists in the Sydney suburb of Newtown. Silvio Offria, who allowed an artist known only as “Donald” to paint the mural on his house, said Norman came to Newtown to see the mural before he died in 2006, “He came and had his photo taken, he was very happy.”
✊In 2005, a statue showing Smith and Carlos on the medal stand (but not Norman, whose silver medal position is vacant) was constructed by political artist Rigo 23 and dedicated on the campus of San Jose State University.
✊A mural of the photo taken with Smith on the podium at the 1968 Olympics with Carlos and Norman was painted on the brick wall of a residence in Newtown, New South Wales, Australia, titled “Three Proud People, Mexico, 1968”. The mural faces the train tracks linking Sydney city to the Western and Southern Suburbs and is no longer visible by thousands of commuters every day.
✊Smith, along with Carlos, was a pallbearer at Norman’s funeral in Melbourne in 2006.
✊On July 16, 2008, John Carlos and Tommie Smith accepted the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage for their salute at the 2008 ESPY Awards held at NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles, California.
Also, on August 8, 2012, a segment on 11 Alive’s 11-on-7 was run about Tommie.
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