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AfriGeneas Writers Forum

Re: Remembering the Berlin Olympics and Beyond


You shared the court Bill Russell!?!
Wow! We're not

Family, I offer the following as a writing exercise. Please critique.
Tommie Smith

I remember the 1968 Summer Olympics because of Tommie Smith. He ran the 200 meters, his college number was 22, and he was my track and field hero. Everything about me, in High School, suggested that we were kin. My coaches nicknamed me "22". I ate, drank, and slept Tommie Smith. And when he broke the world record for the 200 meters, I broke the record for the 200 meters. There wasn't a more proud Black kid for miles. My family and friends knew it, and my coaches knew it too.

Then Tommie Smith took the winner's stand. Head down, Black gloved fist raised high, and in that moment, my reality changed. In that moment, I understood what it really meant to be Black and Proud. I also understood something about society, commitment and responsibility.

My coaches pressed me to make a decision; athletics or academics. I have to point out that I was a mediocre athlete so the choice was easy.

Looking back at that famous photograph of Tommie Smith and John Carlos, thirty-two years later, I see more than a moment in current history. I see the anguish of the Ancestors being acknowledged. Two African-American men using a world stage, striking a pose, modified but not unlike so many pictures of slave auction blocks and lynchings.

In a circuitous way, Tommie Smith and the 1968 Olympics had as much to do with me getting involved with genealogy as the stories behind the old family photos.

"Guided by the Ancestors"

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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