Re: Olympics (fwd)

David DeRose (
Wed, 14 Aug 1996 18:20:16 -0400

One thing which no one has mentioned regarding the choice of Ali as the
lighter of the torch is the very conscious efforts which Atlanta planners
seem to have made in order to make the opening and closing ceremonies a
celebration of the American South, and in particular of African-American
culture in the South. I can think of few other Olympic athletes who embody
the struggle, the pride, and the VICTORY over white American oppression of
African-Americans in the way that Ali does. He's Martin Luther King and
Malcolm X with an Olympic Gold Medal and a world boxing championship (or
two) to his name.
I do agree that there is a certain "making peace" implied in his
appearance at the games, and especially in his acceptance of the
replacement gold mdeal. But, I think it was very calculated on the part of
organizers that this should happen IN ATLANTA, not just in the United
States or at the Olympic Games. In spite of the vulgar nationalistic TV
coverage of the games, the Atlanta Olympic committee seems to have made it
pretty clear that these were the new, black America's (or, at least
multi-cultural, creole America's) Olympic games. I worked at the Olympics
in LA in 1984, and these games presented a cultural ambience entirely
alien to the US that the world saw in 1984.

David J. DeRose
St. Mary's College
Moraga, CA 94575