Tommie Smith and John Carlos to Join 2016 Olympic Team at White House

Angela Bronner Helm
U.S. track-and-field athletes Tommie Smith (center) and John Carlos, first- and third-place winners in the 200-meter race, protest with the black power salute as they stand on the winner’s podium at the Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City on Oct. 19, 1968. Australian silver medalist Peter Norman stands by.

Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the U.S. Olympic sprinters who raised their fists during the 1968 Olympics, will join the U.S. Olympic team at the White House next week for its meeting with President Barack Obama, the Charlotte News & Observer reports.

In the last week, the tide has continued to turn for the two courageous athletes, who not only will join the U.S. Olympic team as they are greeted by the country’s first black president but also are immortalized in the newly opened National Museum of African-American History and Culture.


During the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, Smith and Carlos—who won the gold and bronze in the 200-meter dash, respectively—each wore a black glove and raised their fists in a black power salute while “The Star-Spangled Banner” played.

After their display of civil disobedience, they were suspended by the U.S. Olympic Committee and asked to immediately leave the Olympic Village.

Current USOC CEO Scott Blackmun, however, has asked the pair to serve as ambassadors, and at ages 72 and 71, they will join the U.S. team at the White House next Thursday, as well as at an awards celebration Wednesday night in Washington, D.C.

“I think Tommie and John have played an important and positive role in the evolution of our attitudes about diversity and inclusion, not only in the United States but around the world,” Blackmun said Friday night.


Read more at the Charlotte News & Observer.

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