It’s gone down in history as one of the epic collisions of politics and sport — the moment when American athletes Tommy Smith and John Carlos raised their fists out of protest while accepting medals at the 1968 Olympic Games. Carlos’ athletic career ended some time ago, but his activism continues to this day. We talk to Carlos and sportswriter Dave Zirin, a co-author of his recent autobiography.


  • John Carlos U.S. Olympian 1968; Co-Author, The John Carlos Story: "The Sports Moment That Changed the World" (2011, Haymarket Books)
  • Dave Zirin Sports Editor, The Nation; Author, "The John Carlos Story" (Haymarket Books) and "Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics, and Promise of Sports" (Haymarket Books)


  • 13:26:18

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIIt's one of the most famous images in Olympic history. A pair of American sprinters, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, raising their fist in protest, standing barefoot on a podium with medals draped around their necks. A dramatic interjection of politics into an event that was supposedly about countries putting their politics aside in the spirit of athletic competition. The backlash was swift.

  • 13:26:41

    MR. KOJO NNAMDINot only were Carlos and Smith expelled from the 196 games, they were chastised by a media and a public who largely labeled them unpatriotic and out of line. Today, many see that moment as a milestone. And event where the civil rights movement collided with athletics and changed our culture forever. But in the 43 years since those Olympics, how has the relationship between our past-times and our politics changed?

  • 13:27:09

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIAnd do symbols like John Carlos' clinched fist carry the same power as they did a generation ago? We're about to find out because joining us in studio is John Carlos, himself. He's a former United States Olympian and a political activist. He won't the bronze medal in the 200 meters at the 1986 Olympic games. He is co-author of "The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World." John Carlos, thank you so much for joining us.

  • 13:27:35

    MR. JOHN CARLOSWelcome, I'm really honored to be here.

  • 13:27:37

    NNAMDIThe honor is mine. Also with us in studio is Dave Zirin. Zirin is the sports editor at the Nation. He's written several books including his most recent book with John Carlos "The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment that Changed the World." Zirin, how's it going?

  • 13:27:51

    MR. DAVE ZIRINGreat to be here, Kojo.

  • 13:27:52

    NNAMDIYou can join this conversation, 800-433-8850. Do you have memories of that 1968 event? What effect did it have on you? 800-433-8850, you can also send us e-mail to, a tweet @kojoshow or simply go to our website to ask or answer a question there. How did you react when they raised their fists in protest in 1968? So many people are familiar with that moment. Now, there are posters, even t-shirts of you and Tommie Smith, raising your fists in the air in 1968.

  • 13:28:25

    NNAMDIBut not as many people may be familiar with the movement behind it. Tell us a little bit about the Olympic project for human rights, the movement behind it, a little bit about Harry Edwards and, of course, Peter Norman, the movement that took you and Tommie Smith to the podium that night.

  • 13:28:44

    CARLOSWell, at the time, there were some young men in San Jose State that felt like we had social issues in the United States that needed to come full circle. At the particular time, I was attending school at East Texas State University. I used to go and pick up a Track and Field news to check and see how they were doing in the track in terms of their times and so forth. But one day, they had an article there relative to the social issues that they had taken concern about.

  • 13:29:12

    CARLOSI was reading that at the same time I was living that, in terms of social issues that was taking place in society, and I was actually living those same issues in -- at East Texas State University at the time. So I had a vested interest to circumvent myself and find out exactly what they were all about. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to ventriculate to San Jose right away but I did deal with my issues that I had and I left East Texas State and I went back to New York.

  • 13:29:42

    CARLOSI had an opportunity to meet Harry Edwards in 1965, going to the nationals and he realized that I was back in New York and they were having this meeting. And he invited me to this meeting. And I had an opportunity to have a discussion with him after the meeting, that, you know, is possibility that he can get me into San Jose State on a grant and then maybe I can move up to a scholarship.

  • 13:30:06

    CARLOSThat's how I got involved in the movement and I like to phrase it, like, you know, I feel that Tommie Smith and Lee Evans, they might've been the bomb but John Carlos was the wick that brought the fire to the bomb.

  • 13:30:18

    NNAMDIYou were the wick that brought the fire to the bomb?

  • 13:30:21


  • 13:30:21

    NNAMDIWhy would you -- why do you describe yourself in that way?

  • 13:30:24

    CARLOSWell, because I had the more fire. You know, these guys were, you know, hidden and missing that, you know, what the point was. I think, Harry had his finger on the prize, relative to that. I think that Ken Noels had his finger on the prize to individuals that orchestrated the particular demonstration. Relative to the social issues, I don't think that Tommie and Lee Evans really had a clear picture as to what was taking place.

  • 13:30:53

    CARLOSI think, coming from New York, I had pretty much my finger on the prize as well relative to what was going on. Like, if you look at Texas today, a lot of people in Texas relative to what's going on with the governor and the rock and so forth, they've grown under the assumption that, hey man, this is just the way it is. You know, I don’t like the way it is, but we have to accept it because this is just the way it is.

  • 13:31:16

    CARLOSAnd back in the East Coast, our attitudes was, no, that's not just the way it is, we going to change the way it is because it's not right. So by me going there, I went there with a directive and a fire in terms of how we must apply ourselves to make it a better society.

  • 13:31:31

    NNAMDIIn the book "The John Carlos Story," it describes how you grew up in New York, the fact that you were able to interact and see people like Malcolm X and Adam Clayton Powell and the influence that had on your. Zirin, you were about to say?

  • 13:31:44

    ZIRINOh, just to say about the Olympic Project for Human Rights. I mean, a lot of people know the moment of John Carlos, on that medal stand but I think what people don't know is the movement that you reference, Kojo. I mean, they stood for things that have been historically proven absolutely correct. I mean, think about how the way these men's lives were -- they tried to destroy these men and this is what they stood for.

  • 13:32:06

    ZIRINThey wanted a par-tied South African Rhodesia disinvited from the Olympic games. They wanted more African-American head coaches hired. They wanted Mohammad Ali, whose title had been striped because of his opposition of the war in Vietnam. They wanted his title returned. They called him the warrior saint of the black athletes revolt. And then the fourth one, which is, to me, very important, is they wanted that Avery Brundage to step down as the head of the International Olympic Committee.

  • 13:32:29

    CARLOSAvery Brundage was an open anti-Semite, an open white supremacist and they said, how does this jibe with these Olympic ideals that were said, that were supposed to espouse.

  • 13:32:40

    NNAMDIThe goals were indeed much broader. And initially, the discussion had to do with a boycott of the Olympics, all together. That did not occur but there was one athlete I discovered in this book "The John Carlos Story" who essentially boycotted the Olympics anyway, the basketball player know as Lew Alcindor, is that correct?

  • 13:33:02

    CARLOSAbsolutely. Well, Kareem and I had a discussion...

  • 13:33:04

    NNAMDIKareem Abdul-Jabbar.

  • 13:33:05

    CARLOSRight. We had a discussion at that particular time, relative to the Olympics and the potential boycott. And I remember telling Kareem that I felt that, if it was me, I would boycott the Olympic games but the fact that I feel that if they're going to the games and I chose to stay home, it would be the wrong thing to do because someone from America would go and win a medal and stand in my spot and they wouldn't represent me as I would like to be represented on the stand.

  • 13:33:35

    CARLOSHowever, I told him, if he boycotted the Olympic games, all he has to do is make a statement that I'm going back to college, my education is far more important than the athletics. And I said to him, I was saying you have to take into account, Kareem, that you are the NBA. The NBA is on your shoulders right now. So they would never hold you up from which your desires are because you're the future of the NBA.

  • 13:33:58

    ZIRINAlthough, it's very fascinating that, since his retirement and despite the fact that Kareem, by all accounts, is incredibly bright, he's never been able to get a head coaching job. Either at the college or the NBA level.

  • 13:34:11

    NNAMDIAnd, of course, as John Carlos pointed out, Kareem did not go to the 1980 -- '68 Olympics. You write about the group of people including former Olympic hero Jesse Owens, who, in the locker room before that 200 meter race, discouraged you from doing anything that would draw attention to yourself. What was going through your mind as you left that locker room and went to the track?

  • 13:34:35

    CARLOSWell, what was happening in my head, prior to that, was the fact that, you know, Jesse had you stood up in 1936, maybe, in 1968, 36 years later, we wouldn't have to stand up and do what we felt our fore-brothers should've done before us. So I -- we had to remind Jesse, as well, that although you want to make change, Jesse, we want to make change, too. And you have to take into account, that Jesse where have you been from 1936 up unto to the present because they made you dormant.

  • 13:35:03

    CARLOSAnd now because we are so-called radicals and getting ready to make some radical moves in society, that they would bring you back and put a suit on your and put a check in your pocket and have you read a script to us. And at that particular time, as young as we were, we just wasn’t ready for anyone to deter us from what we felt our goals were in life.

  • 13:35:22

    NNAMDIDave Zirin, you mentioned Jesse in your book "A People's History of Sports in the United States," where you talk about how his performance in the 1936 Olympics infuriated Hitler to see a black athlete perform so well. Do you think an athlete like Owens, who did not come out and make a political statement, who made someone argue, a strong statement through his athletic accomplishments, should be held in the same regard as athletes like Tommie Smith and John Carlos?

  • 13:35:48

    ZIRINWell, it's different, of course. I mean, I think there are athletes who, just by their actions on the court or on the field of play, are making a political statement. Just by breaking barriers. Whether it's the William sisters in tennis, for example, to see African-American women, just perform on that level. Or Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavy weight champion. That, in and of itself, can be a political act.

  • 13:36:10

    ZIRINYou know, at the same, I do think we have to distinguish people who are political symbols from people who actually use the platform to say something conscious about the world in which they live. And let's not forget that Jesse Owens was a very conscious person but his consciousness was to tell John Carlos, Tommie Smith and Lee Evans, to just shut up and play.

  • 13:36:32

    ZIRINAnd I think it's so interesting in the illustrative because it shows that in 1968, the divide wasn't so much racial in the Olympic Village as it was generational. Like, John Carlos and Tommie Smith, had allies on the all white Harvard Crew Team.

  • 13:36:46

    NNAMDISure did.

  • 13:36:46

    ZIRINAnd, you know, and so -- and that's on one side and on the other side you have Jesse Owens telling them to shut up and play.

  • 13:36:52

    CARLOSWell, you know, I have to take into account, you know, when you sit back and I evaluate the history of Jesse Owens relative to our demonstration, you have to realize that Jesse Owens was like Malcolm and -- I mean, Jesse Owens was like Dr. King and Tommie and I were like Malcolm in regards to the fact that Jesse Owens wanted the same thing that Malcolm wanted -- I mean, that Martin Luther King wanted.

  • 13:37:16

    CARLOSAnd we wanted the same thing that Malcolm X wanted. But yet and still when you come to the realization, both of us wanted to solve the ills of society relative to race and relations. We went about it in different ways. But when the dust settled, you realized that both of us had the same end result. We wanted to have a better cohesive race relations throughout the United States and the world for that matter.

  • 13:37:42

    CARLOSWe just took different paths to get there. And Jesse's error, as David said, Jesse felt it was the right thing to do for them to tell him to come and tell us that we should cool down. I remember Jesse making the statement say, "Hey man, we have to give them more time. We have to give them more time." And I recall telling Jesse, say man, "In your day, they was telling you the same thing." I say, "Tell them that John Carlos said "Time has run out."

  • 13:38:08

    NNAMDIAnd I can tell you that, as a young man during that time, for me, it symbolized the difference between the more cautious approach to the movement that was, I guess, symbolic -- symbolized by Dr. King and the rising militancy of younger African-Americans in the civil rights movement as a result of the black power movement, this -- that black -- that salute. The so-called Black Power salute was what symbolized what -- where we were at that point in time, Dave Zirin.

  • 13:38:35

    ZIRINAlthough, yeah, and just one of the great revelations in the book though is that Dr. King wanted to join them in Mexico City.

  • 13:38:42


  • 13:38:42

    ZIRINIn October of '68. Dr. King wanted to be involved in the boycott and the story that people always come to me when they read the book and say it was incredible is John Carlos' story of sitting in a room with Dr. King, literally just days before his death in Memphis.

  • 13:38:57


  • 13:38:58

    NNAMDIAfter you held up your fist in demonstration, the majority of the crowd actually booed you. At that point, did you have any idea what the media and the general public's reaction would be to the demonstration nationally?

  • 13:39:11

    CARLOSWell, we got a prelude to that added vision when I was a kid at seven, eight years old and it showed me in the stadium and the response that the people had in the stadium, one second they was applauding vigorously about what I did and the very next second, they was angry and spitting venom and it like the sunshine turned to stormy weather. So I had a prelude as to what was going to happen at that particular time.

  • 13:39:34

    CARLOSBut at the same time, I think that God had me born for that reason. And I would be able to weather the storm. You know, it was almost like God said don't worry, have no fear because I have you in my hands. And through my life, that's exactly what has happened.

  • 13:39:46

    NNAMDIHere is Mark in Silver Spring, Md. Mark, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:39:50

    MARKAll right, Kojo. Thanks and thanks for taking my -- a lot of my thunder. I mean, the comment that I want to make is pretty simple. '68, I was seven, you've already pointed out, there was a lot of activity with respect to civil rights and the Black Power movement. The Black Panther activity, I didn't -- wasn't one of those cat calling and booing at seven. I was applauding because it was a sol solidarity movement and gesture at least from my perspective.

  • 13:40:17

    MARKI think it strengthened us as a people. It helped us identify that, you know, we can move beyond the attempt to suppress our will, and this athletic event just like Jesse Owens and his success in '36 was just a demonstration of how we can indeed break through what people are trying to put in front of us barriers. So Mr. Carlos, I thank you for your gesture, and Kojo, I thank you for having your guests on the panel.

  • 13:40:44

    CARLOSThank you as well.

  • 13:40:45

    NNAMDIMark, thank you for calling. You too can call us at 800-433-8850. How do you typically react when athletes inject themselves and their sports into the political arena? 800-433-8850. We got this e-mail from Amy in Washington. "I was in eighth grade during the 1968 Olympics and I remember seeing John Carlos and Tommy Smith raise their fists on television. It was electrifying. I was a young white kid from a politically moderate family, and I can't remember now whether I genuinely supported or strongly disapproved of what they did.

  • 13:41:20

    NNAMDIBut I do remember feeling that things were changing in a fundamental way and that they would never be the same. Mr. Carlos and Mr. Smith were truly brave to take such a public stand. Thank you," says Amy. And we're gonna take a short break. When we come back, if you'd like to call us, 800-433-8850. Do you have memories of watching John Carlos and Tommy Smith at the 1968 Olympics? 800-433-8850 is the number to call to share your reaction and how you feel things have evolved since that time. You can also go to our website,, join the conversation there. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 13:43:42

    NNAMDIWelcome back. We're talking with John Carlos. He's a former United States Olympian and a political activist. He won the bronze medal in the 200 meters at the 1968 Olympic games. He is co-author along with Dave Zirin of "The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment that Changed the World." Dave Zirin also joins us in studio. He is the sports editor at the Nation magazine. He has written several books, including his most recent with John Carlos.

  • 13:44:08

    NNAMDIWe're taking your calls at 800-433-8850. What do you feel the public's opinion, or when do you feel the public's opinion on the demonstration changed from the negative to the positive in your view, John Carlos?

  • 13:44:24

    CARLOSWell, I think it had a mixed review from its inception. I think many of the people that was grass roots people, many of the people that has oppressions in their lives, irregardless of what their ethnic background was, you know, when it first was done, most people were saying it was a Black Power demonstration and it only pertained to black people. But then they began to realize that it didn't just affect black people, it affected people of all races that was being oppressed or misused throughout society.

  • 13:44:53

    CARLOSAnd then as time went on, people began to realize that all the things that we were fighting for and standing for and gesturing for had become true reality. There was no misgivings about whether this was real or whether this was Memorex. People started realizing that these things that these young individuals were standing for and fighting for at that time, such as the same individuals that are out there marching up and down Wall Street now, such as the same individuals that's in the Mid West fighting for their jobs and fighting for their lives.

  • 13:45:21

    CARLOSThe same things that they are dealing with now, we had a vision and a paradigm that those things were taking place 43 years ago.

  • 13:45:28

    ZIRINIt's like you said, Kojo, off air, I mean, just at John Carlos and Tommy Smith are getting pilloried in the media, 1969 at Howard, tell us what happened, Kojo.

  • 13:45:37

    NNAMDI1969 I came to Washington D.C. for the Howard University Homecoming, and when I arrived at the stadium for their football game, just about everybody in the stadium was wearing one black glove and raising their fists in the air. What was considered anathema in much of America, was very popular on the campuses of historically black colleges and universities, particularly Howard University in this case.

  • 13:46:00

    NNAMDIAnd what I remember after that is that Lee Evans and Tommy Smith did not do a great deal of public speaking after the event in the same way that you did. You went around to a lot of those colleges and other colleges arguing on behalf of the stand that you took.

  • 13:46:15

    CARLOSYou know what -- you know, it's amazing that you would say this, because this is what I've said for many years, that -- not to disrespect to Mr. Smith or Mr. Evans, but they had gone dormant from that point on. I don't know whether it was fear of reprisal, or just the mere fact that the storm has overcome them and they need to get out the way of the storm, but I felt that it was very important that I continue to foster what I believed in, and to try and get young individuals to step up and have the courage to be fighters for right as well as I was.

  • 13:46:47

    NNAMDII'd like you both to talk about how the storm that John Carlos talks about affected one Peter Norman. Who was Peter Norman, and how did that storm affect him? First you, John Carlos.

  • 13:46:59

    CARLOSWell, first of all, Peter Norman is a friend for eternity. Peter Norman was his own man. He was a man's man. I respect that the utmost. But Peter Norman was just a regular everyday young individual that had ideas and dreams about being an actor, and most of all, being an athlete.

  • 13:47:18

    NNAMDIA sprinter from Australia.

  • 13:47:19

    CARLOSAnd not only just a sprinter, I think he was the greatest sprinter that Australia's ever seen. And then when you evolve into the relationship, you realized that Peter Norman had far more going for him than just running track, such as myself. He was a true humanitarian. The same views that we had about what was happening in South Africa or the strife amongst the races here in the United States, Peter Norman, by himself had concern and concern enough that he would stand up bold and be an icon for the aborigines of Australia.

  • 13:47:52

    CARLOSHe stood fast because he believed in human rights. His mom and dad raised him under the Salvation Army Corps and God could never have picked an individual as strong as Peter Norman.

  • 13:48:03

    NNAMDIPeter Norman won the bronze medal in that race and...

  • 13:48:05

    ZIRINOr the silver.

  • 13:48:05

    CARLOSThe silver medal.

  • 13:48:06

    NNAMDIThe silver medal, I'm sorry. You won the bronze. Peter Norman won the silver medal in that race, and he stood on the podium with those two men and he suffered some consequences from that also.

  • 13:48:15

    ZIRINHe stood on the podium, and if you look at the picture closely, you'll see a circle on his left shoulder that reads Olympic Project for Human Rights. And he went to John and said -- before they went on the stand and said, John, I want people to know forever that I stood with you on this, can I have your medal -- your badge to put on, and John said, well, no. Because this one's mine, but the Harvard crew team brought a stack this high, a huge stack of these patches that said Olympic Project for Human Rights, and they went up to the Harvard crew team and said throw down a patch, and then Peter got it and put it on and went here and got on the medal stand. Peter passed away, I believe it was five years ago...

  • 13:48:52

    NNAMDIBut he suffered a lot of hostility when he went back to Australia.

  • 13:48:55

    ZIRINTremendous. And as John has said, he said, look as bad as it was for Tommy and me, at least the media could take turns kicking our behinds, go Tommy, John, John, Tommy. But Peter had to take the brunt by himself. And John is right, you could -- statistically, Peter Norman is the greatest sprinter in the history of Australia. The country gave Peter Norman no role when the Olympics came to Australia in 2000.

  • 13:49:17

    NNAMDII remember that.

  • 13:49:18

    ZIRINAnd Peter Norman spent the majority of his years teaching gym class. I mean, there's something obscene -- not nothing against gym teachers, but, I mean, my goodness.

  • 13:49:29


  • 13:49:29

    CARLOSYeah. You thought he would have been up in the high archives of the Olympic movement in Australia. But let me just tell you about, you know, what happened to Peter. They drove Peter to alcohol, they drove him away from his family, they drove him away from his jobs, the drove him to breakdowns. They tried and get him to denounce who he was on the victory stand. They try and get him to denounce who was on the victory stand with him, and this is why I say I love Peter and respected him...

  • 13:49:56

    NNAMDIAnd he never did.

  • 13:49:57

    CARLOS...all my life. Because he never denounced us, he never turned his back on us, he never said one bad thing about us, and he stood firm all the way to his death, relative to who we are. And I recall going to his funeral and seeing 3,000 people there to pay homage to him in death, and I had to ask that 3,000 people, how many of you were there when he came back from Mexico City? You here now to give homage to a great man, probably one of the greatest men to walk the earth. You here now while he's gone when you should have been there when he came home and alive.

  • 13:50:29

    NNAMDIDave Zirin, I asked John Carlos when he felt the tide started to turn in the general national view of what he did. When did you see the media begin to acknowledge what he and Tommy Smith did as a positive thing?

  • 13:50:44

    ZIRINOh, I don't think you see it until roughly 2006 to 2008. I mean, so we're talking almost 40 years. Two things I think led to the shift in a big way. The first was when the statues were built at San Jose State.

  • 13:50:59

    NNAMDIAt San Jose State.

  • 13:51:00

    ZIRINTwenty-foot high statues of Tommy Smith and John Carlos, and they actually -- the part where Peter Norman's supposed to be is empty, and that upset John, and John said, if Peter Norman's not there, I might boycott the ceremony, and Peter Norman said, no, it's good because then people can stand up there and have that feeling that I had.

  • 13:51:17

    NNAMDIThey can take my place.

  • 13:51:18

    ZIRINAnd isn't that Peter Norman in a nutshell to do that, and so they had that incredible moment together. And then in 2008, Tommy Smith and John Carlos got the Arthur Ashe courage award at the Espy's, which meant all the great athletes who were there that night, people like Tom Brady and Ken Griffey, Jr., all the icons, they stood up and applauded for Tommy Smith and John Carlos on that night.

  • 13:51:40

    ZIRINBut you know what I honestly think it is, Kojo? I think that there's some things about the media in this country where they will break their own arm patting themselves on the back about how progressive they've gotten over the decades. Meanwhile, athletes who try to take those lessons and apply them in the present day get pilloried for it -- absolutely pilloried.

  • 13:52:01

    NNAMDIA lot of people would like to speak with you, so we'll go to Linda in Triangle, Va. Linda, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:52:09

    GLENDAHi. My name is Glenda.

  • 13:52:11

    NNAMDIGlenda. Go ahead, Glenda.

  • 13:52:13

    GLENDAGlenda, yes. I remember I was nine years old, and I remember my mother and father, when Mr. Carlos and Mr. Smith raised the Black Power symbol, they just were ecstatic, and I was too young to really grasp what had happened, but over the years, I've come to understand, and I just wanted to say thank you for doing what you did.

  • 13:52:39

    NNAMDIGlenda, thank you so much for your call.

  • 13:52:40

    GLENDAAt a time when a lot of people wouldn't do it.

  • 13:52:43

    CARLOSThank you so much.

  • 13:52:44

    NNAMDIGlenda, thank you so much for your call. We move onto Bookman in Largo, Md. Bookman, your turn.

  • 13:52:50

    BOOKMANYes, peace. I want to say peace to brother Carlos and the other brother, and I thank you Kojo for having these brothers on your show. I have enlightened just the 10 or 15 minutes they've been on this show. However, I would like to ask Brother Carlos how would you relate the brothers and sisters that are in athletics today and their consciousness to the state of black people in America to today.

  • 13:53:16

    BOOKMANBecause if you really look at is, as you say, the same thing today is going on as yesterday, and it's not just hurting black people, but it's hurting the average Caucasian, and until the consciousness of all people are awakened, as you stated...

  • 13:53:36

    NNAMDIOkay. We're running out of time, Bookman, so allow me to have John Carlos respond. Go ahead.

  • 13:53:40

    CARLOSYeah. I feel that first of they, they've thrown money into the game. So they're bondaged by if I open my mouth I'll lose the money that might be in my hands, and then the second thing you have to take into account that what Tommy Smith and John Carlos did, Mohammad Ali did, it took a tremendous amount of courage, and you have to look into an individual to find out whether they absolutely had the courage to do what we did.

  • 13:54:06

    CARLOSThey were aware of the fact that we had to go through strife after what we did, but it takes the courage say, I understand the fight, and I'm willing to take the beating that they might give to make it better for all.

  • 13:54:17

    NNAMDIDave Zirin, a lot of athletes at the peak of their sports, the ones who are the most marketable, seem to care more about their brand than about taking stances on important issues. You've been a huge supporter of athletes like Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns, Sean Avery of the New York Rangers who voiced their support for gay marriage. Talk about that.

  • 13:54:35

    ZIRINWell, it's a -- Steve Nash has done other things as well in addition to that. Steve Nash organized the Phoenix Suns to all come out wearing jerseys that read, Los Suns, in 2010 to oppose Arizona's anti-immigrant law SB1070. And no doubt Steve Nash is a special cat like that. But -- and there are other athletes as well who are starting to find their voice and speak out, but the stakes are high.

  • 13:54:57

    ZIRINWhat Dr. Carlos talks about as money in the game, with that is also, I mean, communities are in terrible disarray. And so in a lot of communities, when an athlete makes it, their like the person who got their lottery ticket punched, and everybody's looking to them to pull a whole group of folks out of poverty. So the stakes are very high. It is definitely a fetter on more athletes speaking out, but I think we are starting to see it, and one the ways I know that is I've seen the way some athletes have responded to this book, and that's been very exciting.

  • 13:55:27

    CARLOSWell, I'd like to add...

  • 13:55:29

    NNAMDIPlease do.

  • 13:55:29 what Dave just said in regards to Steve Nash. See, a lot of people don't realize that Steve Nash was not born in Canada. Steve Nash was born in South Africa. If we ever had a pictorial of strife and racial divide, it would be in South Africa. I'm sure that Steve Nash grew up and had visions as to what was taking place in South Africa relative to the plight of people of color, and at the same time, I think that his parents might have left South Africa because they had disdain in their mouth...

  • 13:55:59


  • 13:56:00

    CARLOS...for what was taking place. So Peter -- Steve Nash, I keep saying Peter Norman because they're so much alike, but Steve Nash grew with these things, and he grew with it in strength, and he uses his abilities as an athlete the same as I use my abilities as an athlete as a platform to bring social issues to the attention of the general public so we can discussion and dialogue to try and move through this era.

  • 13:56:25

    NNAMDIHere is Lori in Fairfax, Va. Lori, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:56:30

    LORIHello, I'm really enjoying the program. And I remember seeing you on television and watching the Olympics and being proud of the fact that you were making a statement. But I was married in 1968, and the overall context of the events that happened in that year, I don't know -- you're honing in on this one little event, but if you look at it, think about that year with Martin Luther King's assassination, Robert Kennedy's assassination, the terrible protests, the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, I'm from Chicago, and then all of the race riots.

  • 13:57:09

    NNAMDIWe're almost out of time, but I can assure you as he will that all of those things were on John Carlos' mind in that summer of 1968.

  • 13:57:17

    CARLOSAbsolutely right. And we're here trying to advertise "The John Carlos Story." I'm sure if you read that book, I'm sure most of the things that you said, if not all, will be covered in that book as well.

  • 13:57:26

    NNAMDIThey are indeed all covered in that book. You'll also find about how John Carlos grew up in Harlem at a point where, as I mentioned earlier, he was surrounded by some of the giants of African-American history, Malcolm X, Adam Clayton Powell, and all of that had an effect on you growing up, did it not?

  • 13:57:43

    CARLOSWithout a doubt. I mean, from the entertainment first, you know, from all the musical giants that came through to live between the Cotton Club and the Savoy Barroom to hear the music, to have Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella, Willie Mays, and all these individuals come up into my father's shoe shop, to see Jackie Robinson and be introduced by my dad and go see "The Jackie Robinson Story" and realize that he was one of the greatest athletes of all time, and as a black man, he had to suffer the same strife.

  • 13:58:11

    NNAMDIThe book is called "The John Carlos Story."

  • 13:58:12

    ZIRINCome out -- come out to UMD tonight, the Hoff Theater, meet John Carlos, 7:00 pm.

  • 13:58:16

    NNAMDIAt the University of Maryland Hoff Theater. Dave Zirin is co-author of the book, John Carlos thank you so very much for joining us. Good luck to you.

  • 13:58:25

    CARLOSKojo, thank you for having us.

  • 13:58:26

    NNAMDIThank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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