John Carlos, 1968 Olympian and Civil Rights Legend, To Speak at Puget Sound

December 21, 2012


Carlos gives a free, public talk at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 22


TACOMA, Wash. – With a black-gloved fist raised and his head bowed, Olympic medal winner John Carlos made history in 1968. The moment of defiance when he and Tommie Smith raised their arms in a Black Power salute from the Olympic winners’ podium in Mexico City was meant to tell the world how far America still had to go in its pursuit of fair and equal civil rights.

On Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, Carlos will speak at University of Puget Sound with a message reflecting the humanitarian struggle he has pursued for more than four decades. The public is welcome to the free event at 7 p.m. in Schneebeck Concert Hall.

Carlos will be the special guest at the college’s 27th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration—an event held this year a day after the holiday commemorating the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  The evening will include comments by local and campus leaders and music by Navele Davis and Friends. A reception and a book signing by Carlos, author of The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World, will follow. Tickets are not required.

John Carlos and Tommie Smith, respectively bronze and gold medal-winning sprinters at the 1968 Summer Olympics, drew headlines worldwide when they made their speechless statement. The two stood in their socks, with no shoes, to represent the poor; with a black scarf and beads around their necks to protest black lynchings. They were supported by Australian silver medalist Peter Norman, who wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge.

Bringing politics on to the field at the strictly nonpolitical Olympic Games caused a firestorm. It led to the two men’s suspension from the U.S. Olympic team and later to death threats against Carlos, Smith, and their families.

But Carlos, who as a boy was inspired to pursue athletics by a Harlem police officer, continued down the path that the controversy opened before him. Having won gold at the 1967 Pan American Games and bronze at the 1968 Olympics, Carlos turned to professional football, playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, Montreal Alouettes, and Toronto Argonauts, before an injury forced him from the game. He then worked with PUMA Group, the United States Olympic Committee, the organizing committee of the 1984 Summer Olympics, and the City of Los Angeles. Since 1985 he has been a counselor and track and field coach at Palm Springs High School in California.

In 2008 the athlete, author, and activist was a torchbearer for the Human Rights Torch Relay, which focused attention on China’s human rights record and ran in parallel with the 2008 Summer Olympics torch relay. In the same year, Carlos accepted the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the 2008 ESPY (Excellence in Sports Yearly) Awards.

Sponsors of the event include the Division of Student Affairs, Associated Students of the University of Puget Sound, and the Tacoma Urban League.

For directions and a map of the campus: www.pugetsound.edu/directions.xml
For accessibility information please contact accessibility@pugetsound.edu or 253.879.3236.

Press photos of John Carlos can be downloaded from: www.pugetsound.edu/pressphotos

Photos on page: Top right: John Carlos; Above left: book by John Carlos; Above right: the famous moment at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.

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