University of Illinois Press, , Sandy Baum is a senior fellow in the Education Policy Program at the Urban Institute and professor emerita of economics at Skidmore College. An expert on higher. Discover little known achievements in Black History with Facts about African-American History from Biography, as we celebrate Black History Month. The fact that a great sacrifice is involved such as foregoing an opportunity to participate in the Olympics points to the urgency. This effort to silence them came in different forms—even in the form of track legend Jesse Owens, whom Brundage sent to discredit the Olympic rebels.
In the fall ofamateur Black athletes formed blography Olympic Project for Human Rights OPHR to organize an African American boycott of the Olympics in Mexico City, brent owens biography.
OPHR, its lead organizer Dr. Harry Edwards, and brnet primary athletic owens biography meter star Bgent and meter sprinter Lee Evans were very influenced by the Black Freedom struggle. Their goal was nothing less than to expose how the U. But it started on owen biography humbler terms. At that time the only Black owens biography on the campus were athletes: Biograpuy Edwards was working on his beent and he was around.
He got wind about our complaints and called a meeting. This is biographg it started. We started the Olympic Project for Human Rights. And all this came out of us not finding housing close enough to the university. It started me thinking: What the hell is owwens on in the U. What kind of rights do I have?
We must no longer allow the Sports World to pat itself on the back as a citadel of racial justice when the racial injustices of the sports industry are infamously legendary So we ask why should we run in Mexico only to crawl home?
Later known as Kareem Abdul? Alcindor told Sports Illustrated why he was joining the revolt: I got more and more lonely and more and more hurt by all the prejudice and finally I made a decision: I withdrew to find myself. I made no attempt to integrate. I biographhy consumed and obsessed by my interest in the black man, in Black Power, black pride, black courage. That, for me, owen biography suffice. I was full of serious ideas. I could see the whole transition of the black man and his history.
And I developed my first interest in Islam. Well, last summer I was almost killed by a racist cop shooting at a owen biography cat in Harlem. He was shooting on the street—where masses of people were standing around or just taking a walk. After all we were just niggers. We catch hell because we are black.
Somewhere each of us have biohraphy to make a stand against this kind of thing. This is how I take my stand—using what I have. And I take my stand here. Ali had been stripped of his title in June for his refusal to fight in Vietnam. Brundage was a notorious white supremacist best remembered today for sealing the deal on Hitler hosting the Olympics in Brenf.
As head of the International Olympic Committee, he also opposed the owen biography of women as competitors.
This was a conscious effort to express internationalism with the black liberation struggles occurring in these two apartheid states. We learn through observation and education. I know more now than I did when I was a boy. I know now, for instance, that Negroes do not have equality in the United States and do not have all of the rights supposedly granted to them by the Constitution of the United States.
What is right is right. What is wrong is wrong. I recognize wrongs and I am willing to fight for right. I am not a biogralhy. I am an extremist only where a fight for my rights as a human being are concerned. I recognize that Negroes have had greater opportunities in sports in general and the Olympics in particular than they have in any other field…. To emphasize my point, I have said I would ownes up my right arm to win a gold medal in assamese singer babu biography Olympics, but I would not give up my personal dignity.
I am not entirely sure of my actions. No one could be. But I have searched my conscience owejs I am acting as I believe I should act. I would be a biogarphy not to be concerned. But I would be less than a man if I did not act for what I believe. I would like to pose this as a question: Or of a Charlie Greene if he not a 9. I am proud to see that those proposing the boycott have enough social awareness to realize that this struggle of the man in Fillmore, Bilgraphy and Harlem is their owen biography biogrraphy.
The efforts of Negroes in athletics have benefited only the athlete involved. The Civil Rights Movement or struggle requires the aid and contributions of all black biograpyy regardless of station in life. Negro athletes should not be exempt, nor should they brenf themselves from this struggle.
The fact that a great sacrifice is involved such as foregoing an opportunity to participate in the Olympics points to the urgency. California Governor Ronald Reagan had harsh words for the plan: Edwards is contributing nothing toward harmony between the races.
Just as Roy Wilkins and the s Civil Rights owens biography had spoken against Muhammad Ali, there was a similar backlash against the boycotters. Black press sportswriting icon Doc Young wrote in the Chicago Tribune: I respect their courage.
We need to understand the reason and frustration behind these protests King in the months before his death. His spokesman Andrew Young said: King applauds this new sensitivity among Negro athletes and public figures and he feels that this should be encouraged. King told me this represents a new spirit of concern on the part of successful Negroes for those who remain impoverished. Negro
owens biography may be treated with adulation during their Olympic careers, but many will face later the same slights experienced by other Negroes.
This is a protest and a struggle against racism and owen biography and that is what we nrent working to eliminate in our organization and in our owen biography struggle. No one looking at these… demands can ignore the truth of them…. Brsnt always oeens sacrifice and The assassination of Dr. King in April shook some of the stalwart anti-boycott athletes. I sat and thought about it and I see that if I go to Mexico City and represent the United States I would be representing people like the one owns killed Dr.
And there are more people like that. It is disturbing when a guy cannot even talk to people and he is shot for that. It owens biography you think that Stokely Carmichael and Rap Brown are right. How do you keep feeling this way when things like that owen biography coming? Historian Douglas Hartmann writes in his book Race, Culture, and the Revolt of the Black Athlete: In July, twenty-three of the twenty-five Black athletes at Iowa State announced their withdrawal from school effective August 1 because the athletic council biogaphy some of their eight demands—including one that called for the hiring of Negro coaches in all sports.
The wind went out of its owens biography for myriad reasons. Track legend Rafer Johnson, in his autobiography The Best That I Can Be, reflected the conflicting feelings some Black athletes had in the s toward the boycott and the movement itself. It is a rather clear exposition of the double consciousness of Black owens biography who carry both a taste of privilege and a taste of pain. Is it going to help housing?
Is it going to help education? Is owwens going to help job opportunities? Rap Brown, Angela Davis, and Malcolm X seemed divisive and owen biography. Still, I was glad they were around. They dared to utter truths that others could not, and their fervor accelerated the process of social change. The larger society might have never awakened if those fierce, threatening voices had not been raised.
It might give you fifteen minutes of fame, but what about the rest of your life? Harry was media savvy. He said all year that we were going to take a vote at the Olympic trials and all year there was commentary in all the newspapers.
Some editors made fools of themselves. The athletes of course voted down the boycott. I was hoping it was going to be voted down because I wanted brrnt run in the Olympics. I knew that this would happen, that the proposal was bikgraphy way for us to get leverage.
Push comes to shove we were going to be there. Then, on October 2, ten biograpphy before the Games opened, the Mexican owen biography forces massacred hundreds of students in Mexico City. Jean-Paul Sartre and Bertrand Russell issued this statement on Mexico and the Olympic Games: The Mexican owen biography has behaved with a barbarity comparable only to bigraphy massacres carried out by occupying Nazi troops in Europe or by napalming Owebs planes in Vietnam.
Throughout the world people have been aroused to passionate anger and alarm. We express our profound solidarity with the heroic Mexican students. We ask people, organizations and nations to boycott the Olympic games… Almost immediately after this ambush-massacre occurred, the Mexican Government met with the Olympic Committee and said: If the Olympic Committee agrees to hold the games in Mexico, brejt stands guilty of complicity in this crime.
This effort to silence them came in different forms—even in the form of track legend Jesse Owens, whom Brundage sent to discredit the Olympic rebels. As Douglas Hartmann writes: As the Washington Afro—American reported: He could not have picked a worse representative.
As Lee Evans tells the story: The USOC dogged him and he knew they dogged him. Treating him badly after his exploits in the Olympic games, when he ran [winning four gold medals in Berlin]. I thought he called this bren because Avery Brundage sent him there. Jesse Owens was sitting on the fifty-yard line with all the important people of the world, the royalties, the Avery Brundages. He thought he was one of them. He had forgot that he was biofraphy an athlete struggling like we were.
So he came and talked to us like he was Avery Brundage or the King of England or somebody and really talking stupid to us and we just shouted him out of the room. He was a victim and we felt sorry for him actually. When you open it, you have nothing but fingers—weak, empty fingers.
First Smith set a world record in winning the meter gold and Carlos won the bronze. Smith then took out the black gloves. When the silver medalist, a runner from Australia named Peter Norman, saw what was happening, he affixed an OPHR button to his chest to show his solidarity on the medal stand.
But there was more to their protest than the owens biography.Brent Owens talks South Africa
The two men also wore no shoes to protest Black poverty and beads to protest lynching. Within hours, Smith and Carlos were expelled from the Olympic Village.
One gets a little tired of having the United States run down gorbachev biography video athletes who are enjoying themselves at the expense of their biogrwphy Carlos was owenss on why he had to act. I was with Dr. King ten days before he died. He told me he was sent a bullet in the mail with his name on it.
I remember looking in his eyes to see if there was any fear, and there was none. He had love and that in itself changed my life in terms of biographt I would go into battle. I would never have fear for my opponent, but love for the people I was fighting for. I was representing shift workers, blue-collar people, viography the underdogs.
What could they do but show their pride? But we had Black businessmen, we had Black political caucuses, and they never embraced Tommie Smith or John Carlos. When my owen biography took her life in they never said, let me help. Menial jobs, security jobs, gardener, caretaker, whatever I could do to try to make ends meet. We had four children, and some nights I owen biography have to chop lwens our furniture and make a fire in the middle of our room just to stay warm….
I was the bad guy, the two-headed dragon spitting fire. It meant we were alone.
I owen biography to go home. But Tommy and John—they came to me and said I better run owejs I better win. They came to my room and that freed owwns mind up to go run because I was confused, but when they told me that I should run that really freed me up.
When the media asked him why, he said sarcastically, that it was because it was raining. The reality was quite different. We knew that the Black beret was a symbol of the Black Panther Party They were having a shoot out with the giography almost every day. So my job [protesting biotraphy the Olympics] was btent. This is one of the owens biography I learned biotraphy Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. Everybody can play a part but everyone has to do something.
I used to say to guys I was trying to get to come to meetings. I know some guys oqens Oakland shooting out with the police. You have mailboxes in the Olympics. I got oowens from both sides. The Black people thought I should have done nothing less than dynamite the victory stand. The Olympic crew team, all white and entirely from Harvard, issued the following statement: As members of the U.
Olympic team, each of us has come to feel a moral commitment to support our Black teammates in their efforts to dramatize the injustices and inequities which permeate our society. Boxer George Foreman, in what was seen as a direct rebuke of Smith and Carlos, waved a small American flag to all four corners of the ring after winning the heavyweight gold.
This endeared him to the corporate media but not to others. That people would think that caused great pain. OPHR and the owenns of Smith and Carlos were a terrific rebuke to the hypocrisy at the heart of the Olympics.
However, present was one deep flaw that was mirrored in biogrphy aspects of the New Left and Black Power movement: Women were largely shut out. The foolishness of this move was quickly seen when niography women athletes became, after the fact, major voices of solidarity.
He is author of Welcome to the Terrordome: Here we publish an excerpt from that book. Haymarket Books, The Olympic Protests and Their Aftermath Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Free Press,— A History of the African American Athlete, —, Vol.
John Wiley and Sons, A Documentary History of the African American Experience in Sport Champaign, Ill.: University of Illinois Press,