The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World

February 22, 2012

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Tommie Smith (center) and John Carlos (right) showing the Black Power salute in the 1968 Summer Olympics.

Seen around the world, John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s Black Power salute on the 1968 Olympic podium sparked controversy and career fallout. Yet their show of defiance remains one of the most iconic images of Olympic history and the Black Power movement. In a special appearance, Carlos will speak on the intersection of sports, culture, and resistance, discussing the story behind the iconic moment, the role of young people in struggle, and cultural resistance today.

After being vilified for years, Carlos has recently been awarded the ESPY's Arthur Ashe Courage Award and is currently an NAACP Image Award Nominee. A former track and field athlete and professional football player, Carlos was also a founding member of the Olympic Project for Human Rights. He won the bronze medal in the 200 meters race at the 1968 Summer Olympics, where his Black Power salute on the podium with Tommie Smith caused much political controversy. He went on to equal the world record in the 100 yard dash and beat the 200 meters world record. After his track career, he enjoyed brief stints in the National Football League and Canadian Football League but retired due to injury. He became involved with the United States Olympic Committee and helped to organize the 1984 Summer Olympics. He later became a track coach at a high school in Palm Springs, where he now resides. He was inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame in 2003.

This event is the opening program of the 12th annual Louder Than a Bomb Chicago Youth Poetry Festival and part of Young Chicago Author's new event series The Get Down Sessions: Conversations on the Cutting-edge of Arts and Ideas.

Recorded Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at Columbia College.