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Tommie Smith       
 
Full name: Thomas C. "Tommie" Smith 
Gender: Male 
Height: 6'3" (191 cm) 
Weight: 185 lbs (84 kg) 
Born: June 5, 1944 in Acworth, Texas, United States 
Affiliations: Santa Clara Valley Youth Village 
Country: USA United States  
 
 
Personal Bests: 100y 9.3 (1967); 100 10.1 (1966); 200 19.83 (1969); 220y 19.5s (1966); 400 44.5 (1967) 
 
 At 6-3 and 185 pounds, Tommie Smith had the ideal build for a long sprinter and his acceleration at the end of a race was a trademark that made him one of the most versatile sprinters in the world. With all-time bests of 10.1 for 100 meters, 19.83 for 200 meters and 44.5 for the 400, Smith still ranks high on the all-time lists.  
 
While a student at San Jose State Smith won the national collegiate 220 title in 1967 before adding the AAU furlong crown as well. He repeated as AAU 200 champion in 1968 and made the Olympic team where he won the 200 in a world record 19.83. During his career, Smith became the only man, all time, to hold 11 simultaneous World and Olympic records, set seven individual world records and also was a member of several world record relay teams at San Jose State. He is now a college track coach and professor in the Los Angeles area.  
 
 Born to Richard and Dora Smith on June 6,1944, in Clarksville, Texas, seventh of 12 children, Tommie Smith began life very unpretentiously. God's intentions for him to provide a special service was evident very early as Tommie barely survived a serious bout with pneumonia as an infant. Not only did he survive, but also he went on to become a distinguished chapter of African-American history. 
 
 Beginning his incredible career in Lemoore, California, when as a fourth grade student he was asked to race against the fastest runner in the school (his sister Sally), he went on to become the only man in history of track & field to hold eleven world records simultaneously! By the time he graduated from high school he had been voted "Most Valuable Athlete" three years straight in basketball, football, and track & field. His college career was highlighted with many achievements. He started striving and breaking world records in track as a sophomore and did not stop until he had tied or broken thirteen. Academically, Tommie's major at San Jose State University was Social Science with a teaching emphasis, coupled with a Military Science and Physical Education minor. These areas constitute a major portion of the educational foundations upon which his professional tutelage has been based. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree, and went on to teach and coach on the grammar school, junior and senior high school levels. His Master's degree in Sociology was earned later. 
 
 Tommie was the 200 meter champion in the 19th Olympiad in Mexico City with a time of 19.83 seconds, which was a world record until 1979 and an Olympic record until 1984. Yet with God-given talent, and encouragement to excel, Tommie Smith was propelled into human rights spokesman ship long before it became a popular cause. His concern was for the plight of African-Americans and others at home and abroad. Cheered by some, jeered by others, and ignored by many more, Tommie Smith made a commitment to dedicate his life, even at great personal risk to champion the cause of African-American-sociologically, educationally, morally, athletically, financially, and spiritually. To this day, since the "Stand for Victory," Tommie Smith remains as committed and as dedicated to principles which are God-blessed. 
 
 He has been featured in such major national publications as Sports Illustrated, Sports, Newsweek, Cleveland, Score, Ebony, Track & Field News among others. Innumerable newspapers/foreign magazines and audio/video media entities continue to seek him out for their features, training products and presentations. He competed and continues to travel throughout various European and Asian nations, and conducts seminars, clinics and delivers speeches in those locations, as well as on domestic college campuses. 
 
 Following the games of the 19th Olympiad, Tommie played professional football under the legendary Paul Brown with the Cincinnati Bengals for three years. He went on to become an Assistant Professor of Physical Education at Oberlin College in Northeast Ohio. In that capacity he taught Sports Sociology and numerous physical education courses, counseled many students and athletes who sought his expertise and advice, coached Track & Field as well as Football and Basketball, and served as Athletic Director. 
 
 Tommie is currently a faculty member at Santa Monica College in Santa Monica, California. His tenure there has included his service on such college committees as the Academic Senate and the College Curriculum Committees, as well as teaching various Sociology, Health and Physical Education classes. He is the Head Men's Cross-Country and Track & Field Coach. 
 
 In 1996 Tommie Smith was inducted into the California Black Sports Hall of Fame, and in 1999 he received the Sportsman of the Millennium Award. May of 1999 Tommie Smith was inducted into the Bay Area Hall of Fame along with Ronny Lott, Joe Montana and others. In November of 1999 he was inducted into Lemoore Union High School Hall of Fame and the San Jose State University Sports Hall of Fame. The silent gesture made by Tommie Smith, and others on the victory stand in Mexico City Summer Olympic Games was heard around the world has been documented by HBO TV titled "The Fist of Freedom" aired in August 1999. Tommie has been included in TV shows including the ESPN special "Season of Change: The African American Athlete," also a documentary by TNN called "15 Minutes of Fame." 
 
 In 2000-2001 the County of Los Angeles and the State of Texas presented Tommie Smith with Commendation, Recognition and Proclamation Awards.  
 
For his life-long commitment to athletics, education, and human rights following his silent gesture of protest at the '68 Olympics in Mexico City, Smith received the Courage of Conscience Award from The Peace Abbey in Sherborn, Massachusetts. 
Statue in honor of Smith and Carlos on the campus of San José State University 
 
In 2005, a statue showing Smith and Carlos on the medal stand was constructed by political artist Rigo 23 and dedicated on the campus of San Jose State University. 
 
With author David Steele, Smith wrote his autobiography, entitled Silent Gesture, published in February 2007 by Temple University Press. 
 
In July 2008, John Carlos and Tommie Smith accepted the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage for their black-gloved fist salute at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. The 2008 ESPY Awards were held at NOKIA Theatre L.A. on July 16, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. 
 
In August 2008, Tommie Smith gave 2008 Olympic triple gold winner Usain Bolt of Jamaica one of his shoes from the 1968 Olympics as a birthday gift. 
 
he 1968 Olympics Black Power salute was a noted black civil rights protest and one of the most overtly political statements in the 110 year history of the modern Olympic Games. African American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos performed the Power to the People salute at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. 
 
On the morning of October 16, 1968, U.S. athlete Tommie Smith won the 200 meter race in a then-world-record time of 19.83 seconds, with Australia's Peter Norman second with a time of 20.07 seconds, and the U.S.'s John Carlos in third place with a time of 20.10 seconds. After the race was completed, the three went to collect their medals at the podium. The two U.S athletes received their medals shoeless, but wearing black socks, to represent black poverty. Smith wore a black scarf around his neck to represent black pride. Carlos had his tracksuit top unzipped to show solidarity with all blue collar workers in the U.S. and wore a necklace of beads which he described "were for those individuals that were lynched, or killed and that no-one said a prayer for, that were hung and tarred. It was for those thrown off the side of the boats in the middle passage." All three athletes wore Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR) badges, after Norman expressed sympathy with their ideals. Sociologist Harry Ed 
 
Both U.S. athletes intended on bringing black gloves to the event, but Carlos forgot his, leaving them in the Olympic Village. It was the Australian, Peter Norman, who suggested Carlos wear Smith's left-handed glove, this being the reason behind him raising his left hand, as opposed to his right, differing from the traditional Black Power salute. When "The Star-Spangled Banner" played, Smith and Carlos delivered the salute with heads bowed, a gesture which became front page news around the world. As they left the podium they were booed by the crowd. Smith later said "If I win, I am American, not a black American. But if I did something bad, then they would say I am a Negro. We are black and we are proud of being black. Black America will understand what we did tonight." 
 
International Olympic Committee response 
 
IOC president Avery Brundage deemed a domestic political statement unfit for the apolitical, international forum the Olympic Games were supposed to be. In an immediate response to their actions, he ordered Smith and Carlos suspended from the U.S. team and banned from the Olympic Village. When the US Olympic Committee refused, Brundage threatened to ban the entire US track team. This threat led to the two athletes being expelled from the Games. 
 
A spokesperson for the organization said it was "a deliberate and violent breach of the fundamental principles of the Olympic spirit."Brundage, who was president of the United States Olympic Committee in 1936, had made no objections against Nazi salutes during the Berlin Olympics. The Nazi salute, being a national salute at the time, was accepted in a competition of nations, while the athletes' salute was not of a nation and so was considered unacceptable. 
 
In 2008, the official IOC website states that "Over and above winning medals, the black American athletes made names for themselves by an act of racial protest." 
 
Aftermath 
 
Smith and Carlos were largely ostracized by the U.S. sporting establishment in the following years and in addition were subject to criticism of their actions. Time magazine showed the five-ring Olympic logo with the words, "Angrier, Nastier, Uglier", instead of "Faster, Higher, Stronger". Back home they were subject to abuse and they and their families received death threats. 
 
Smith continued in athletics, going on to play American football with the Cincinnati Bengals, before becoming an assistant professor of Physical Education at Oberlin College. In 1995 he went on to help coach the U.S. team at the World Indoor Championships at Barcelona. In 1999 he was awarded a Sportsman of the Millennium award. He is now a public speaker. 
 
Carlos' career followed a similar path to Smith. He initially continued in athletics, equaling the 100m world record the following year. Later he played American football with the Philadelphia Eagles before a knee injury prematurely ended his career. He fell upon hard times in the late 1970s and in 1977 his wife committed suicide. In 1982 Carlos was employed by the Organizing Committee for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles to promote the games and act as liaison with the city's black community. In 1985 he became a track and field coach at Palm Springs High School, a post which he still holds. 
 
Norman, who was sympathetic to his competitors' protest, was reprimanded by his country's Olympic authorities and ostracized by the Australian media. He was not picked for the 1972 Summer Olympics, despite finishing third in his trials. He kept running, but contracted gangrene in 1985 after tearing his Achilles tendon, which nearly led to his leg being amputated. Depression and heavy drinking followed. He suffered a heart attack and died on October 3, 2006. Smith and Carlos were pallbearers at his funeral. 
 
Statue in honor of Smith and Carlos on the campus of San José State University 
 
San José State University honored former students Smith and Carlos with a twenty-two foot high statue of their protest in 2005. In January 2007, History San José opened a new exhibit called Speed City: From Civil Rights to Black Power, covering the San Jose State University athletic program "from which many student athletes became globally recognized figures as the Civil Rights and Black Power movements reshaped American society." 
 
On March 3, 2008, in the Detroit Free Press editorial section, an editorial by Orin Starn entitled "Bottom line turns to hollow gold for today's Olympians" lamented the lack of social engagement of modern sports athletes, in contrast to Smith and Carlos. 
 
Smith and Carlos received an Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2008 ESPY Awards honoring their action. 
 
The Sydney Film Festival in mid-2008 featured a documentary about the protest, titled "Salute", and directed and produced by Matt Norman, an Australian actor and film-maker, and Peter Norman's nephew. 
 
On Wednesday, July 9, 2008, at 2100, BBC Four broadcast a documentary, Black Power Salute, by Geoff Small, about the protest and its aftermath. In an article, Small noted that the athletes of the British team attending the 2008 Olympics in Beijing had been asked to sign gagging clauses which would have restricted their right to make political statements, but that they had refused. 
 
The Salute was featured in a "Nick News" special on Black History Month, during the "Did You Know?" portion. The special aired on Sunday, February 1st, 2009. 
 
web site: www.tommiesmith.com 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mexico City 1968 Olympic games most famous picture
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tommie Smith, John Carlos and Roger Bambuck during the 200 meters final
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Born to run
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tommie's happyness explodes: gold medal, olympic record, world record 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
From left: 
 
John Carlos 
Tommie Smith 
Roger Bambuck
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
From left: 
 
Jochen Eigenherr 
 
Peter Norman 
 
Larry Questad 
 
John Carlos 
 
Tommie Smith 
 
Roger Bambuck 
 
Mike Fray 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mexico City 1968 Olympic games most famous picture  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mexico City 1968 Olympic games most famous picture 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mexico City 1968 Olympic games most famous picture
 
 
 
 
 
 
Larry Questad, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the three americans who ran the Mexico City 1968 200 meters final
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mexico City 1968 Olympic games most famous picture
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tommie Smith and John Carlos arrive in Los Angeles October, 21, 1968
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
John Carlos and Tommie Smith 40th years later
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
John Carlos and Tommie Smith 40th years later
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tommie Smith 40th years later