[sixties-l] Re: sixties-l-Olympic History

From: Jeffrey Blankfort (jab@tucradio.org)
Date: Tue Jul 25 2000 - 07:54:48 CUT

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    Ron Jacobs wrote:

    > The American athletes vowed to continue the boycott, but it eventually
    > fell apart-... An alternative path was decided on: no African-American athlete would take the
    > victory stand when they won. Only weeks before the Olympics began, Mexican
    > students took over the National University, supported by thousands of their
    > countrymen and women. On October 12, ten days before the Games opened,
    > Mexican security forces opened fire on a rally in the La Plaza de las Tres
    > Culturas at Tlatelolco in Mexico City, killing hundreds. Although the
    > harassment and intimidation of athletes supporting the boycott movement was
    > not even close to the massacre of the students and their supporters, the
    > intention was the same--to stifle protest. The Olympics almost didn't take
    > place.

    The massacre actually took place on October 2, far from the University,
    with the soldiers involved being told a tissue of lies about those whom
    they were going to kill. More than 400 were murdered, some 2000
    wounded, and others arrested. From that moment on, even the attempt to
    write anti-government graffiti was tantamount to self-immolation. By the
    time the Olympics opened, Mexico City was like a ghost town. The
    government was not about to cancel its major showcase for the world. The
    Secretary of Interior who ordered the massacre was Luis Echeverria
    Alvarez, who when he later became president, was considered a "champion"
    of the Third World, and then when leaving office, like presidents before
    him, he fleeced the treasury with a moneyed devaluation scam.
    > ... Tommie Smith took the gold, John Carlos the bronze.
    > Although they had been intimidated and harassed like the other athletes,
    > when the US flag began rising up the flagpole and the anthem played, the
    > two men bowed their heads and raised their black-gloved fists in a black
    > power salute. The silver medalist was a runner from Australia named Peter
    > Norman who wore the patch of the Olympic Committee for Human Rights
    > (OCHR-sponsor of the boycott movement) in solidarity with Smith and Carlos.

    > Within hours, the two African American men were expelled from the Olympic Village and were stripped of their medals. This was one of the decade's
    > simplest and most effective protests.

    What was generally not reported here in the US is that the Mexican fans
    roared their approval of the action of Smith and Carlos and two days
    later, when Carlos appeared and was spotted in the stands, people nearby
    started shouting his name. Pretty soon the whole stadium was calling
    his name, and for a brief moment, the games came to a stop. Despite his
    surname, Carlos didn't speak a word of Spanish.

    > As the games continued, other
    > athletes from a number of nations protested the treatment of the two in
    > various ways.

    Although no other black US athletes protested as dramatically as did
    Smith and Carlos, at least three others such as Lee Evans, who broke the
    400 meter record, wore black socks in solidarity with them and with the struggle.

    The Cuban athletes were the only ones who would comment on the events
    that had been taking place outside of the stadium. The Russians had
    nothing to say. This was also true of the participants at a film
    festival that took place in Acapulco following the games.

    One other thing from those games. The decision to prohibit South African
    from participating in the 68 games was largely the result of a protest
    organized by South African poet Dennis Brutus, now, I believe, at Northwestern.

    Jeff Blankfort

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