John Carlos during the 1968 Olympics.

John Carlos (right) was the bronze medal winner for the 200 meter dash and sparked a controversy when he and fellow teammate Tommie Smith (middle), the gold medal recipient, raised their gloved fists instead of putting their hands over their hearts while the national anthem played. This became a hot topic of debate at a time when the civil rights movement had reached its peak in the United States. Carlos will discuss this experience and how it changed his life during a free lecture Nov. 29, 2011 at University of the Pacific.

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Arts and Culture

Olympian and Activist John Carlos to Speak at Pacific

1968 Olympic Political Statement Had Lasting Effects
by Lily PenfoldNov 9, 2011

John Carlos, who triggered a political uproar in the United States when he raised his fist on the medal podium during the 1968 summer Olympics, will speak at University of the Pacific on his experience. Carlos said the act was not a "black power" symbol, which critics claimed it was, but rather a salute for all human rights.

The photo of Carlos and his teammate raising their fists during the medal ceremony is one of the most recognizable photos in Olympic history. In 2008 Carlos was awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award for his work as a human rights activist.

"An evening with John Carlos" will feature an hour-long presentation of his experience and the aftermath of the salute. He also will discuss his political experience, as well as his recent book, "The John Carlos Story." The event is supported by a grant from the Pacific Arts and Lecture series. It starts at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 29 in the Don and Karen DeRosa University Center and is free and open to the public.

"Pacific is eager to host a speaker of this caliber, who stands for such an empowering message," said Lara Killick, assistant professor of sports sciences. "Equality and human rights are such vital topics in today's society. Carlos is a steward for that message and a representative for all young people aspiring to change our social environment."

Carlos was the bronze medal winner for the 200 meter dash and sparked a controversy when he and fellow teammate Tommie Smith, the gold medal recipient, raised their gloved fists instead of putting their hands over their hearts while the national anthem played. This became a hot topic of debate at a time when the civil rights movement had reached its peak in the United States.

Smith and Carlos were immediately removed from the Olympic village by game officials and returned to California, barred from competing in the rest of the 1968 ceremony. Olympic officials also considered stripping the two runners of their medals, but that did not happen.

After the incident, Carlos became a high school athletics coach. He also remained active in other human rights and political campaigns, and most recently took part in the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations at Zuccotti Park in New York.

The Department of Sport Sciences is hosting the event in collaboration with San Joaquin Delta College's AFFIRM program and several other student groups on Pacific's campus. Pacific and Delta students also have an opportunity to have dinner with Carlos before his lecture by submitting a paper on how his "black power salute" helped shape their lives. Papers must be less than 800 words and should be submitted to Johncarlosatpacific@gmail.com by Nov. 15. Please include an email and contact phone number.

Copies of Carlos' book will be on sale during the lecture and there will be a book signing following the event.

about the author

Lily Penfold   Lily Penfold is the Media Relations Assistant at Pacific and also a graduate student in the Communication Department of the College of the Pacific.