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Behind the Black Power salute

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Tommie Smith (centre) and John Carlos (right) make their protest in 1968

It is 40 years since American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos chose the Olympic Games to stage their protest against the treatment of black people in their country.

Smith, who won the 200m at the 1968 Mexico Olympics, and Carlos, who finished third in the same event, bowed their heads and raised gloved fists skyward after receiving their medals.

Forty years on, documentary maker Geoff Small has been investigating the events that led up to Smith and Carlos' protest.

He made some interesting discoveries and you can read more about those here: news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/oly...

His documentary will be aired on Wednesday, 9 July at 2100 BST on BBC Four.

Were you around in 1968 and if so, what are your memories of the event and the aftermath?

And were Smith and Carlos right to make their stand at the Olympics?

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posted Jul 8, 2008

Great piece of history Redaussie. It's ironic that Norman suffered more or less, the same ostricisim as Smith and Carlos endured in the US. Great to note that atleast in death, his equally brave act is now being recognised alongside Smith and carlos of course. The proposed film sounds absolutely great too!

Plus to the earlier commentator - you are absolutely right: what current or recent olympian would be prepared to make such a brave and moral stand for human rights and equality today? The sponsors would run for the door!

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posted Jul 8, 2008

upyourjumper, these kind of documentaries are normally avilable on iplayer and i wouldnt see why this one wouldnt be...

sport and politics will always mix and it is in cases the only means by which to bring attention to a serious problem...and the courage and bravery of all 3 athletes to do what they did was amazing....

if only an athlete had that sort of courage to do something at the bejing olympics...

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posted Jul 8, 2008

Respect Redaussie ..... like many others I never knew the Peter Norman story ..... thankyou for bringing it to the attention of others like myself that were ignorant of the wonderful role he played in this great issue.

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comment by oayche (U2340002)

posted Jul 8, 2008

Redaussie, thank you for highlighting that.

A few years ago I visited a friend in Australia and the country struck me as not wanting to acknowledge its racist past (and in many cases present). Hopefully with the new prime-minister, and stories like this being told the country can turn a new leaf.

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posted Jul 8, 2008

Inspiring Roy - I agree it would be interesting to see if a current olympian would be brave enough to risk everything for something they believed in. Its interesting to note that the Salute documentary will be shown on the Qantas flights that take our athletes to Beijing, and strict guidelines are in place to stop anyone doing anything like this.

At the unveiling of the statue in America of Carlos and Smith in 2005 Peter Norman was asked to give a speech. He said "I stepped in to lend my support, but the issues are still there today - and they'll be in Beijing. We've got to make sure that we don't lose sight of that. We've got to make sure that there is a statement made".

Peter Norman was quoted to say "once you've earned that right to stand on that podium, you've got that one square metre of the world that belongs to you. What you do with it is up to you - within limits"

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posted Jul 9, 2008

Fascinating program. I was only 5 when it happened but such was the impact at the time that I remember it quite clearly and my father trying to explain to me what it was about. Since then I've seen bits and pieces, but that's the first time I've seen the full story, very interesting. I hope the BBC shows the Peter Norman documentary at some point as well.

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posted Jul 9, 2008

yeah where can you purchase the Norman doc from ?

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posted Jul 10, 2008

There's a website for the documentary: http://www.salutethemovie.com/

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posted Jul 11, 2008

RedAussie - many thanks for the fascinating stuff on Norman.

The BPS documentary (which can be accessed via iplayer here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/tv/bbc_four) didn't go massively into Norman's role in 1968 and I look forward to watching the salute programme on him.

I thought one of the more interesting things to come out of the BPS doc was the fact that Jesse Owens was brought in by Avery Brundage to talk to Smith, Carlos and Lee Evans (winner of 400m who staged his own, albeit more low-key protest) and they basically kicked him out.

I severely doubt if there will be any political protests on such a scale in Beijing - too much money involved now!

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posted Jul 11, 2008

There is also a trailer for the Salute film here: http://www.movietrailers.net.au/salute/

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