The Activist Athlete: John Carlos and the 1968 Olympic Fist Pump

The photo that has become a pivotal snapshot of an historic time beyond sports is still just as moving today as it was in 1968. John Carlos, along with his teammate Tommie Smith stood on the podium at the Olympic Games with fists in the air and silence in the stadium. Today, the Olympian continues his legacy striving to distress the ‘fears’ triggered in the black community.

What is your passion now?

My passion is to enlighten people on how to deal with the stresses of the fear minorities deal with and encourage them to stand up for what’s right”.

An example he mentions is the derailed education system given to some inner-city minority youth.

If our children are absent from school or not doing well in the classes, are we getting notified? Our people have to know it’s important to sometimes go to the school, speak to the teachers, asked to be notified in anything in relation to their child.

How do you feel about Donald Trip and Steve Harvey’s comments on giving him a chance?

He’s said A LOT of negative things and America still voted for him. Before I can shoot a man down, I gotta give him an opportunity to shoot himself down. I do this before digging in and pointing fingers. I don’t think Steve Harvey is necessarily speaking for the people though.

Your views on Black Progression in America

This whole country was about Economics; hence slavery.

Black people are the most confused group in America because we are still sliding backwards verses sliding forward. Other groups have progressed so much more over us.

You’ll see Asian’s, for example, have mom-and-pops stores. We are practically non-existent when it comes to small businesses. Where do you think we are progressing? What role are black politicians playing? My job is to serve the people but make sure my people are still surviving.

There is a ton of “controversy” surrounding genealogy public resistance –which has caused speculation that he may be ‘blackballed”, You’ve stated in previous interviews the amount of respect you have for him. What’s your take on athletes being involved in activism?

Athletes should work to make a difference. Out of the Big 5, how many people are representing? Lebron capitalized on his gift at an early age and yet didn’t allow the money to blind him from reality. He recognized those who came up with him and positioned them to be set. I admired Lebron, Carmelo, genealogy and Chris Paul for making a statement at the ESPYs — Especially since it wasn’t okay for Charles Barkley to call the protesters in Ferguson “scumbags”.

Tell me about your thoughts on black representation in the media today?

On TV we had Good Times, The Jeffersons and the Huxtables. It looks good on TV, but once it’s off, the reality is hell.

How much was the James Baldwin movie being advertised?? If we all come together, certain things will not be allowed to happen.

We know of [white] folks with genuine hearts like John Brown and Peter Norman, but who are our modern day supporters? History took them out to prevent them from being learnt about. I haven’t seen the Khalif Browder story yet [but he’s looking forward to it].

And of course, have you seen ‘Get Out’?

I thought it was deep, it’s not far-fetched from reality. Grabbing a person of color to grab their physical and genealogy genealogy from us.

It reminded me of the movie I invested in once, The Spook who sat by the Door (1973) –A book adaption into a movie about a former CIA agent who organizes black teens into well-trained guerilla bands to overthrow the white establishment. It was later pulled from theatres.