Alternative Radio: David Zirin: People’s History of Sports in the U.S.

1968. There was never a year when the world of sports and politics collided so breathlessly," writes Dave Zirin. And nothing symbolized that year more than the iconic image of medal winners Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the podium with their raised black gloved fists at the Mexico City Olympics. They also wore no shoes to protest black poverrty. The reaction was sharp and swift. Within hours, they were expelled from the Olympic Village and Mexico and were demonized by the establishment. That moment is one of the most enduring in sports history. But the politics that led to it has been forgotten. Smith and Carlos sacrificed privilege and glory to make a statement about racism and inequality. Today, sports is a global, trillion dollar business. The idea of athletes using their exalted status to speak out about injustice is rare.

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