Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Smith and Carlos

This weekend while we were visiting friends in San Jose, we walked through the campus of SJSU on our way to breakfast. They asked if we would like to see the statue of Smith and Carlos, which I knew nothing about. They briefly told us the story of the 1968 Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos who were students at SJSU when they won Gold and Bronze medals in track at the '68 Olympics. They told us that during the medal presentation, they turned away from the flag and gave the 'black power' solute.

The statue was amazing. Incredibly life-like, moving and beautiful. It made me sad to find out that they were then striped of their medals and sent home to years of turmoil for themselves and their family.

I couldn't believe that I knew nothing of this especially since images of them on the podium have been deemed as one of the most memorable images in history. But then I thought, why would I know about it? The Civil Rights movement was not openly talked about in high school (at least not my school when I was there). History in general was skimmed over. HISTORY... all of it! Perhaps this is a huge area of study I missed out on by not completing college. But even while I was going full-time (yes, I'm still taking 1 freakin class a semester), I had no interest in history or humanities and was only taking the bare minimum for a science degree.

I understand that I live in my own little bubble, so what else do I know nothing about?

I found many an article about Carlos and Smith, but these I found to be very interesting and wanted to share:
The sjsu site explains all of the symbolic items (shoes, left vs right fist, etc.)

Article which talks to the unveiling and why the silver medalist was not included in the statue.

Video interview with Channel 11 the day they received their honorary doctorate degrees from SJSU

1 comment:

J said...

Sometimes I wonder how old we have to get before we really get interested in history...but really, I think it's partly the way it's taught, and party the specifics of the class. So if you were to take a class in race relations, you would have learned about this event, but otherwise, not so much.

The only classes I've had that taught about civil rights at all were those general U.S. history classes, and they have to get 400 years smushed into two semesters, so nothing gets handled very well, which is part of why it's so boring.

On the other hand, Maya says she loves history. I don't know if that's because of the way the teachers at her school present it, or if it's just her, or both. She likes to imagine living in different time periods and what it would have been like. Maybe that's the result of American Girl dolls and historical fiction books? I don't know.

I think this story, of Smith and Carlos, is a very interesting one. When we who grew up during or after the civil rights movement get a glimpse of how people were treated, JUST how horrid it could be, we have a better understanding of why things haven't gotten all the way better yet. It takes more time than we have yet given it, I think.

Love the new layout. :)