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The President now has an opportunity to demonstrate to the world in general, and to the black people in particular, that the United States, while not condoning the immature act of these athletes, does not accept the extreme penalty levied by the Olympic Committee. This was eight years before Olympians began to regularly visit the White House. Johnson's staff wasn't sure what to do with the suggestion. Juanita Roberts, Johnson's secretary, shared the proposal with White House staffers.
I don't know if Smith and Carlos would come with everybody else, but it does strike me as a fine way to handle this problem. Jones, special assistant to the president, to solicit more opinions.
White House aides George Reedy and Joseph Califano "believe the President would have little to gain and there is the potential for much embarrassment," according to a White House memo. In the end, Jones responded to McElwaine: We do appreciate your suggestion, but regret that we will not be able to follow through on it.
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Despite the reservations expressed in Mexico, in letters after the Summer Games, Roby, the USOC chief, said at various times that feedback he received ran 8 to 1, 9 to 1 or 10 to 1 in support of the USOC's response, and he defended the decision in letters. In letters after the Olympics, he wrote: We do not intend to permit the Olympic Games to be used for demonstrations of any kind.
They were largely shunned in Olympic and track communities. Running offered little financial stability 50 years ago, so they both gave professional football a shot. The s brought depression, personal troubles and financial woes for Carlos: It was part of the government taking back what we had won," he wrote. They had a machinery. We had no machinery.
What did I do to deserve them following me everywhere? The only conclusion I could draw was that it was to punish me, to beat me down and to drive me to some point of insanity. I asked if it was against regulations for me to bring two hot cups out to the car, and he paused and said no. Carlos and Smith both bounced between jobs, with each eventually settling comfortably into education and coaching. For years, neither was celebrated as any sort of sports hero.
It was very difficult because there wasn't really any media they felt like they could talk to, and over a year period or so, there was poverty; there was no money. It's just a trinket," he had once explained.
I could lose that medal, but I'm never going to forget the memories I have. It wasn't until a new generation began to hear their story and celebrate their actions that either began to feel accepted.
Since then, both men have been bestowed numerous honours, including at the Free Expression Awards this spring in Washington, D. As the boycott failed to achieve support after the IOC withdrew invitations for South Africa and Rhodesia, he decided, together with Carlos, to not only wear their gloves but also go barefoot to protest poverty, wear beads to protest lynchings, and wear buttons that said OPHR.
- WATCH: Medal winners' black power salute at 1968 Olympics changed their lives
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In response to their actions, he ordered Smith and Carlos suspended from the US team and banned from the Olympic Village. This threat led to the expulsion of the two athletes from the Games. He argued that the Nazi salute, being a national salute at the time, was acceptable in a competition of nations, while the athletes' salute was not of a nation and therefore unacceptable.
They thought it was very positive. Only America thought it was bad. Following their suspension by the IOC, they faced economic hardship. About how Muhammad Ali got stripped of his title. About the lack of access to good housing and our kids not being able to attend the top colleges.
With personal records of Smith, who had been drafted by the National Football League 's Los Angeles Rams in the ninth round of the NFL Draftsigned to play for the American Football League 's Cincinnati Bengals and was part of the team's taxi squad for most of three seasons as a wide receiver. In Augusthe gave Olympic triple gold winner Usain Bolt of Jamaica one of his shoes from the Olympics as a birthday gift.
The Story of the '68 Summer Games. We were not Antichrists. We were just human beings who saw a need to bring attention to the inequality in our country. I don't like the idea of people looking at it as negative. There was nothing but a raised fist in the air and a bowed head, acknowledging the American flag — not symbolizing a hatred for it.