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John Carlos Story Essay

1668 words - 7 pages

The “John Carlos Story” is a book about the struggles of growing up black in America at a time when much of the nation was still segregated. John Carlos was a member of the “Olympic Project for Human Rights.” After winning the bronze medal, John Carlos and a friend and teammate, Tommy Smith, who won the gold medal, raised their fists in opposition of racial inequality and in unity of civil rights. This book shows examples of sociology in everyday life which can be explained through theories and concepts, which centers mainly on the event surrounding their win at the Olympic Games.
A seemingly non-emotional, non-verbal, non-violent protest over racism was met with a great deal of negativity at the Olympic Games. Because of the location of their “protest” over racial inequality, many people did not agree with what they were doing. It was not considered socially acceptable to let their opinion on the matters of race play a part of the “opinion-free” Olympic Games. Instantly, the audience at the game did not like their way of letting the people know of their beliefs as the crowd went silent. As John Carlos stated in his book, “There’s something awful about hearing fifty thousand people go silent, like being in the eye of a hurricane. Then, as the national anthem played in full force, the calm before the storm ended and the ‘boos’ started coming down” (Carlos 121).
Smith and Carlos were then able to walk off the field but it just got worse, “the shock was gone and it was officially getting ugly” (Carlos 121). The audience started to yell at them and called them “anti-American” (Carlos 121). Because of the social setting, people did not understand the purpose of what they were doing or what it had represented. There was talk of a mass protest by the Olympians but no other athletes decided to participate. John Carlos did point out in his book, however, that some of the teammates had supported them, “When we made it back to Olympic Village, there were athletes, to my shock, who were incredibly supportive (Carlos 123). There were still plenty of others that did not support their efforts because not long after that, the Olympic Committee had banned them from staying at the Olympic Village and they were suspended from the National team.
To understand why they did what they did is to understand the environment around them. Before the Olympics had begun, a great deal of protesting was taking place in Mexico City. People were upset because the government had spent a great deal of money on the preparations as any country would do in the amount of $150 million dollars. Mainly students were protesting because they felt that the government of Mexico was wasting its money when it needed to feed the poor people in which many students were killed while protesting. According to Carlos, “to the great shame of the Olympic movement, all that bloodshed and death was never mentioned once during the games nor has it ever been mentioned in any...

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