Dr. John Carlos, who raised a fist during 1968 Olympics, reacts to Olympic ban on protests
By: Alyssa Wilson
The International Olympic Committee has banned participants from raising their fists or taking a knee during the Tokyo Olympics set to begin on July 23.
During the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their fists during the national anthem to protest racial inequality. Carlos joined Start Your Day to discuss the ban and the importance of it.
“It appears they haven’t learned anything over 53 years,” he said when discussing the lack of change from the International Olympic Committee over decades.
Carlos and Smith were punished when they raised their fists at the Olympics in 1968. They were suspended by the United States Olympic team and kicked out of the Olympic Village for making the ceremony a “political statement,” The History Channel reported. When the two returned to their homes, they faced backlash and death threats.
Although his act of protest was not accepted well by the world, Carlos said he would do it again.
“No regrets whatsoever. If it was necessary to do it today, I would do it all over again,” he said.
As the country continues to face some of the same issues Carlos protested 53 years ago, he said it’s about a fight for humanity. When asked about today’s athletes who are activists speaking out against injustices, Carlos said they should reach out to the elders to learn about the best ways to handle political activism.
For athletes who are too afraid to speak up, Carlos said they are not immune to today’s problems of racial inequities.
“As an athlete, it is wonderful to be acknowledged for your attributes in the world of athletics, but you can leave the locker room and on your way to your car and die just merely because of the color of your skin.”
He also said the fight for justice is about future generations.
Carlos said, “The fight that you’re in is not necessarily a fight for yourself, but the fight is for your offspring.”