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John Wesley Carlos The American Field Track Legend (Essay Sample)


John Wesley Carlos the American field track legend

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John Carlos in 1968
John Wesley Carlos is an American legend in track and field. He was born on 5th June 1945. He was a professional football player and a field athlete. In the 1968 Summer Olympics, he won the bronze medal in a sensational two hundred meters race. When receiving the medal, he stirred a political controversy with Tommie Smith when they did the Black Power Salute. Tommie Smith was the Olympic gold winner in the race. Later on his career, John Carlos managed to improve world records in 200 meters and 100-yard races. However, with all his athletic achievements, Carlos is still mostly remembered for the Black Salute gesture on the podium in 1968. The gesture was a political gesture against the racial segregation, it empowered communities to stand up for their rights going forward.
On the podium, both of the athletes raised one hand gloved fist as the American national anthem was being played. Peter Norman the silver medal winner in the race from Australia also wore a human rights badge (Carlos & Zirin 79). Therefore, the impact of the actions by John Carlos and Tommie Smith was already being felt at the stadium. To date, the gesture in the 1968 Summer Olympics; is still regarded as the most controversial political statement in the history of Olympic Games.
The American athletes took the podium without shoes, they only had black socks on. In addition, Tommie Smith had a black scarf on his neck as a representation of black pride (Bass 58). On his part, Carlos, did not zip his tracksuit as a gesture of solidarity with the black blue collar workers in America. He also wore a necklace made of beads in solidarity with the families of people who were killed and lynched in the struggle for equality in all parts of the world. According to Carlos, the Olympics platform is organized as a symbol of unity but the plight of minorities was not highlighted throughout the games. Therefore, his actions were a wakeup call to organizers and the whole world in general on the importance of equality.
In response, the International Olympic Committee did not deem the gestures by the athlete as fit for the occasion. Avery Brundage, the President of the Olympic Committee at the time, said the protest by the athletes was a domestic political issue. The Committee said that an Olympic platform is a global event and it was not right to address an American domestic issue. In that regard, the Committee President ordered that Carlos and Smith should be suspended from the America team all Olympic related activities. However, the American Olympic Committee disagreed with him and they refused to follow that order.
On his defense, John Carlos said that inequity and racial discrimination is a global issue. For instance, the slave trade was a global factor. At the same time, in 1968, most ...
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