Presented by the Zinn Education Project
A Collaboration between Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change
Fists of Freedom
An Olympic Story Not Taught in Schools
By Dave Zirin
Sports editor for The Nation, host of Edge of Sports, and co-author of The John Carlos Story plus several others
It has been almost 44 years since Tommie Smith and John Carlos took the medal stand following the 200-meter dash at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City and created what must be considered the most enduring, riveting image in the history of either sports or protest. But while the image has stood the test of time, the struggle that led to that moment has been cast aside.
|PHOTO ABOVE-LEFT: The Olympic Project for Human Rights badge, worn by activist athletes in the 1968 Olympic Games, originally called for a boycott of the 1968 Olympic Games. PHOTO ABOVE-RIGHT: This iconic photo appears in many U.S. history textbooks, stripped of the story of the planned boycott and demands, creating the appearance of a |
solitary act of defiance.
When mentioned at all in U.S. history textbooks, the famous photo appears with almost no context... The media---- and school curricula---- fail to address the context that produced Smith and Carlos' famous gesture of resistance: It was the product of what was called "The Revolt of the Black Athlete." Amateur black athletes formed OPHR, the Olympic Project for Human Rights, to organize an African American boycott of the 1968 Olympic Games. Read more.
"Fists of Freedom" is the newest article in the
Zinn Education Project's column
called If We Knew Our History posted on GOOD Magazine.
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More on the 1968 Olympics at the Zinn Education Project website