Game Changer: John Carlos

It was the year of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia, the assassination of Martin Luther King and the slaughter of student and worker protesters in Mexico City. Against that backdrop of unrest and uncertainty two African Americans stood on the Olympic medals podium in Mexico and raised their fists in the Black Power salute. And in a flash, John Carlos became both victorious and vilified.



Part Three of The Current

Game Changer: John Carlos

Today in our ongoing look at game changers, we're taking in the Olympic Games in Mexico City in 1968. Two U.S. tracks stars, John Carlos and Tommie Smith, made history. And it began with a thrilling race. We aired some sound from ESPN.

Tommie Smith won the gold medal in world-record time in the men's 200 metres, but it was what he and bronze medalist John Carlos did after the race that made them icons to some and pariahs to others. We played some tape from the French archive site, Ina.

As the Star-Spangled Banner played at the medal ceremony, the African American athletes bowed their heads. And then both men raised their black-gloved fists in the air in the Black Power salute. It was one of the most potent images of the 1960s and remains potent today.

John Carlos has now written about that moment in Mexico City and the impact it had on his life and America. The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World was co-written with sportswriter Dave Zirin. And as part of our project Game Changer, John Carlos joined us today from Chicago.


Other segments from today's show:

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