2 Black Power Advocates Ousted From Olympics
U.S. Team Drops Smith and Carlos for Clenched-Fist Display on Victory Stand
U.S. Team Suspends Smith and Carlos
By JOSEPH M. SHEEHAN
Special to The New York Times
Mexico City, Oct. 18--The United States Olympic Committee suspended Tommie Smith and John Carlos today for having used last Wednesday's victory ceremony for the 200- meter dash at the Olympic Games as the vehicle for a black power demonstration. The two Negro sprinters were told by Douglas F. Roby, the president of the committee, that they must leave the Olympic Village. Their credentials also were taken away, which made it mandatory for them to leave Mexico within 48 hours. The decision to dismiss the athletes was made early this morning after the committee had been summoned into a conference by the executive committee of the International Olympic Committee. Members of the United States committee, who were divided on the question of whether action should be taken, emphasized that the dismissals were by edict of the international unit. The I.O.C. had indicated, it was said, that it might bar the entire United States team from further participation if the athletes were not disciplined.
The action obviously tempered the behavior of Negro American athletes who were involved in victory ceremonies today. In accepting their medals for their one, two, three sweep of the 400-meter run, Lee Evans, Larry James and Ron Freeman wore black berets, but in no way conducted themselves in a manner to incur official wrath. Ralph Boston, who finished third in the long jump, went barefoot during his portion of the ceremonies and said: "They are going to have to send me home, too; because I protested on the victory stand." He conceded that the suspension of Smith and Carlos was "an action the Olympic Committee had to take." But he maintained that "the way to have done it was to sit down and talk with Carlos and Smith and hear their side of the story before taking some punitive action against them."
In the same ceremony, Bob Beamon went to the platform for his gold medal in the long jump with his sweatsuit legs rolled up to display black socks. He said he also was "protesting what's happening in the U.S.A." In a statement issued early this morning, the United States Committee said in explanation of its action: The United States Olympic Committee expresses its profound regrets to the International Olympic committee, to the Mexican Organizing Committee and to the people of Mexico for the discourtesy displayed by two members of its team in departing from tradition during a victory ceremony at the Olympic Stadium on Oct. 16. "The untypical exhibitionism of these athletes also violates the basic standards of good manners and sportsmanship, which are so highly valued in the United States, and therefore the two men involved are suspended forthwith from the team and ordered to remove themselves from the Olympic Village. "This action is taken in the belief that such immature behavior is an isolated incident. However, if further investigation or subsequent events do not bear out this view, the entire matter will be re-evaluated.
A repetition of such incidents by other members of the United States team can only be considered a willful disregard of Olympic principles that would warrant the imposition of the severest penalties at the disposal of the United States Olympic Committee." This statement was read by Roby to Evans, James and Freeman before they took the mark in the 400. Evans and Freeman had been identified with Smith and Carlos as black power advocates. After their grand slam, the athletes, smiling, accepted their medals from John J. Garland of Los Angeles, one of the three United States delegates to the I.O.C. While three United States flags were raised on the flagpole atop the stadium rim and the Star Spangled Banner was played, they removed their berets and stood erect facing the flags. On arriving at the victory platform and on leaving it, they did raise clenched fists, but they were smiling and apparently not defiant as they did so. Clenched Fists Raised
At Wednesday's 200-meter victory ceremony, Smith, the winner, and Carlos, who finished third, wore black scarves around their necks and black glove (Smith on his right hand and Carlos on his left). After receiving their medals from the Marquis of Exeter the president of the International Amateur Athletic Federation, who was an Olympic 400-meter hurdles champion in 1928, Smith and Carlos raised their gloved hands with fists clenched and kept their heads deeply bowed during the playing of the national anthem and raising of the United States flag in their honor. This demonstration produced a mixed reaction among United States officials and members of the United States squad, black and white. Some hailed it as a gesture of independence and a move in support of a worthy cause. Many others said they were offended and embarrassed. A few were vehemently indignant. Press emphasis of the incident, which actually passed without much general notice in the packed Olympic Stadium; undoubtedly had much to do with the vigorous I.O.C. reaction and the U.S.O.C.'s rather reluctant compliance with the order to discipline the offenders. Among other things, Smith and Carlos were quoted by news services as saying they would not have accepted their medals if the presentation had been made by Avery Brundage, the 81-year-old president of the I.O.C. As it happened, Brundage was not even in Mexico City that day. He had gone to Acapulco to watch the Olympic yachting competition.Ruby said today he had tried to arrange a meeting with the two athletes, but had been rebuffed. No attempt will be made to deprive them of their medals, he added, because "we have no right to take away their medals."
The 24-year-old Smith, a rangy, long-legged athlete who stands 6 feet 3 inches and weighs 185 pounds, is from Lemoore, Calif., and is a student at San Jose State University, where Harry Edwards, who initiated the black power manifestations in athletics, was a teacher last year. Smith is the listed world-recordholder for the 200-meter and 220-yard dashes, both around a curve and on the straight. Carlos, 23, was born and raised in New York, but now lives in San Jose, and also attends San Jose State. He is 6-4, weighs 200 pounds and wears a beard. A brilliant performer, but more erratic than Smith, he has a pending application for a world record for the 200 meters of 19.7 seconds. Smith's listed mark is 20 seconds flat. His winning Olympic time was 19.7 seconds. Source: http://www.nytimes.com/learning/gene.../big/1018.html