Yousef Munayyer: The Politics behind the Olympic Spirit

“Two disaffected black athletes from the United States put on a public display of petulance that sparked one of the most unpleasant controversies in Olympics history and turned the high drama of the games into theatre of the absurd. “That is how the Time Magazine chose to describe the now iconic scene of Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising black-gloved fists high while standing atop the medal pedestal and refusing to look at the American flag. The year, of course, was 1968. Months earlier, Martin Luther King Jr had been assassinated, and major riots took place that year and in the years prior. Nascent Civil Rights legislation was still entering into effect, and in many parts of the country, Jim Crow and segregationist laws continued to exist either on the books or in practice.

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