By Margaret Rees:
Peter Norman 1942-2006
Australian athlete supported American civil rights struggle
23 October 2006
Thirty eight years ago, on October 16, 1968, the medals ceremony at the Mexico Olympics was converted into a symbolic demonstration of the struggle against oppression.
US black sprinters Tommy Smith and John Carlos, respectively first and third in the men’s 200 metres, defiantly raised clenched fist salutes as the American national anthem played.
Their stand in support of civil rights and against racism reverberated internationally.
The photograph of their protest has become one of the most recognised images in the world, after that of the first moon landing.
The unexpected silver medalist, 26-year-old Australian Peter Norman, wore a button of the “Olympic Project for Human Rights”—a civil rights protest movement set up by black athlete Harry Edwards before the Games—in support of his two fellow athletes.
Norman died on October 3 of a heart attack.
In a moving tribute, Smith and Carlos flew to Australia to deliver eulogies at his funeral in Melbourne on October 9.
They recounted how they asked him, as they walked through the tunnel to the medals ceremony, whether he supported them in the action they intended to take.
Norman replied that he agreed with human rights for everybody and would stand with them.
Five decades after he stood in solidarity with US athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos as they made their iconic black power protest at the 1968 Mexico Olympics, late Australian sprinter Peter Norman’s support for civil rights has been recognized.
The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said Saturday they had awarded a posthumous Order of Merit to Peter Norman, whose Australian record for the 200-meter race still stands 50 years later: here.
Wayne Collett, Track Medalist Barred Because of a Protest, Dies at 60: here.
USA: Lebron James has been unjustly attacked by the sports world for his comments about racism: here.
Anti-African American discrimination and health effects in the USA: here.