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Episode 20: Be Conscious – David Steele: Silent Gesture

12-27 OCT 1968: Tommy Smith (307) (1st place) and John Carlos (259) (3rd place) of the US raise their fists in the "Black Power Salute" during the playing of the national anthem at the Olympics in Mexico City, Mexico...Photo: © Rich Clarkson / Rich Clarkson & Associates

October 16, 1968 marked one of the most historic and iconic events in sports history. After an epic 200 meter race, Tommie Smith took his place on top of the Olympic medal stand, followed by Peter Norman of Australia, and teammate John Carlos. With no shoes on their feet, beads around their neck, and black gloves on their hands, Smith and Carlos turned to the flag and raised a fist to the sky. The narrative of what took place in that moment has taken on a life of its own over the last 50 years. David Steele of the Sporting News worked with Tommie Smith on his autobiography Silent Gesture and has in depth knowledge of Tommie’s thinking in that moment on the victory stand and in the years, and decades to follow. In this conversation, Damien Barling and David discuss the climate of America in 1968 and what made that moment on the podium so memorable and impactful. The two also discuss Tommie’s relationship with John Carlos, Dr Harry Edwards, the tone of the book, and his feelings about Colin Kaepernick and athletes who use their platforms for various forms of activism.

Coming up on Be Conscious:

10/18 – Carron J Phillips: New York Daily News, the impact of the 60s on sports and activism today.

11/15 – Richard Rothestien: The Color of Law




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