He has been a hero to me for 43 years. I've never forgotten that brave, electric moment at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City when John Carlos and fellow U.S. sprinter Tommie Smith showed the Black Power salute on the podium at their medal ceremony. They were protesting racial discrimination and also the massacre of at least 40 protesters in Mexico City by government forces 10 days before the Games began.
Avery Brundage, the head of the International Olympic Committee, had refused to cancel or postpone the Games. Brundage freaked out over the runners' protest, and Carlos and Smith were kicked out of the Olympic Village and banned from the Olympics. Though some applauded their courage at the time, much of America turned against the two men, and they paid a steep price in their athletic careers.
Carlos been fighting for civil rights and human rights ever since and recently spoke at Zucotti Park to Occupy Wall Street protesters. He brought the same message to Occupy Madison, Day 14 Thursday afternoon. He told Occupy Madison that they were fighting the same battle he fought 43 years ago. He was in Madison for the Wisconsin Book Festival to promote his book, The John Carlos Story, but took time from his schedule to join the other 99% in Veterans Park.
His co-author, Dave Zirin, blogged in The Nation about accompanying Carlos to Zucotti Park and to MSNBC, where he introduced him to NY Sen. Chuck Schumer.
I made the introduction, on my best green-room behavior, and bit my tongue. Chuck Schumer then looked at John’s body up and down and said, “You’re in great shape! Are you still running?” John paused beautifully and said, “Running for justice.” Schumer, perhaps for the first time, was tongue-tied. I would just add that John isn’t “just running for justice,” he’s running toward justice; and he has a hell of a lot of company.And you can include Madison in that company.