Seizing a fleeting moment to display the Black Power salute of a raised fist on a global stage, former Olympian John Carlos reflected Friday on bringing attention to “the plight of Blacks” at the 1968 Olympics.
“I would like to start off by saying our cause at the Olympic Games in 1968 was relative to humanity. We were concerned about humanity. We were concerned about the plight of those who was less fortunate, Blacks in particular,” Carlos told “The Faulkner Focus” to mark Black History Month.
Carlos won the bronze medal in the 200-meter race at the Games in Mexico City. During the medal ceremony, Carlos raised his fist alongside U.S. teammate and gold medal winner Tommie Smith, creating an iconic image in sports and American history.
Carlos noted that since the Olympians did not have access to the media platforms available to athletes today, they had to make their statement when and how they could.
“And in that moment we come together and say, ‘Here we are as individuals in society,'” he explained. “If one individual jumped and said, ‘If I can move this pebble from one side of the road to the other, I can make a great advancement for humanity,’ he jumps down, he attempts to do it, he can’t do it. Another one says, ‘You know, John, you got to put your hips into it. He jumps down, he can’t do it.”
Carlos added, “But at the end of the day that five individuals realize when we come together as a power base, as unity as one, we can not only move across the road, but now we can move a mountain in terms of us coming together as human beings on this earth to resolve the issues that we have in front of us.”
“That’s what the fist was all about,” Carlos concluded.
When asked whom he would like to recognize for Black History Month, Carlos named Smith, boxers Jack Johnson and Muhammad Ali, baseball players Curt Flood and Jackie Robinson, basketball legend Bill Russell and singer Paul Robeson.
Former NFL player, businessman, and Blacks Voices for Trump member Jack Brewer who appeared alonside Carlos on the segment, named celebrated running back Jim Brown.
“Jim, one is that he’s living and sometimes we have to celebrate folks while they are here. And Jim Brown used his career, pre- and post-, to go out into the communities and actually touch the most underserved with his hands,” Brewer said.
“And for me, he’s always been someone that I looked up to and try to model a lot of my life behind using what God has given us … to be able to really serve our people, not talk about issues, not rah-rah about it, but actually go into the hood, go into the community, go into the schools and do something about the issues that we see.”