Sport on TV: Timely salute for rights and wrongs of protest

The Chinese authorities must be quaking in their jackboots. The Olympics do tend to get a little political, and in Beijing there are no plans to mark the 40th anniversary of the "black power" civil rights protest by Tommy Smith and John Carlos at the Mexico City Games. The hosts won't be looking to commemorate any remarkable campaigns to champion the cause of the oppressed.

'Black Power Salute' (BBC4, Wednesday) began with the BBC's Frank Bough telling us on 'Good Morning Mexico' on 16 October 1968 about a protest by the two "American Negro runners", who raised their clenched, black-gloved fists on the medal podium. The N-word was surely an unnecessary addition even in those days, given what the protest was about, let alone the famous pictures themselves.

The programme told how the Olympic Project for Human Rights tried to orchestrate a boycott of the '68 Games, as well as calling for Muhammad Ali's world title to be reinstated (it had been taken away when he refused the Vietnam draft) and an Olympic ban for South Africa and Rhodesia.

The San Jose University Speed City team, of which Smith and Carlos were members, also joined forces with their classroom guru Professor Harry Edwards to call for Avery Brundage to be removed as head of the International Olympic Committee. He had been instrumental in Berlin staging the 1936 Games, in return for which Hitler had awarded his construction company the contract to build the German embassy in the US.

The boycott failed and Brundage stayed on. Then he sent Jesse Owens, the icon of black athletes, to stop the US team from continuing their protests, having been responsible for ending Owens' career after the Berlin Games.

Owens ended up in horseracing. But unlike many ex-pros down at the track, he was actually racing against the horses. Old Avery could not be faulted for his ability to compromise the integrity of all concerned.

He sent Smith and Carlos home after the salute. The track ran downhill from there, and we next saw Smith marooned in some grim sports stadium in Wakefield, where this giant of a man with ferocious facial hair held keep-fit sessions for very skinny, very pale and perhaps very frightened children.

What the programme didn't tell us is that Smith and Carlos are apparently no longer on speaking terms. Their versions of the events have become so radically different. Meanwhile, Brundage was faced with the Munich bombing four years later, when he famously insisted: "The Games must go on."

He stood down after the '72 Olympics having been in charge of the IOC for 20 years. Three years later he was dead. The Chinese could have done with someone like him around.

Sport
File photo of Lewis Hamilton celebrating becoming World Champion after victory in the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as he was made favourite to become the first motor racing winner of Sports Personality of the Year since Damon Hill
sportGareth Bale, Carl Froch and Kelly Gallagher also in the mix for award
News
Japan's Suntory Beverage & Food has bought GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade and Ribena
news
News
A tongue-eating louse (not the one Mr Poli found)
newsParasitic louse appeared inside unfilleted sea bass
News
The illusionist believes hypnotism helped him to deal with the lack of control he felt growing up
people'It’s not that people react badly to it – they really don't care'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
peopleJack Monroe accuses David Cameron of 'misty-eyed rhetoric'
News
Tana Ramsay gave evidence in a legal action in which her husband, Gordon, is accusing her father, Christopher Hutcheson, of using a ghost writer machine to “forge” his signature
peopleTana Ramsay said alleged discovery was 'extremely distressing'
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Windsor and Aljaz Skorjanec rehearse their same-sex dance together on Strictly Come Dancing
TV
Money
Anyone over the age of 40 seeking a loan with a standard term of 25 years will be borrowing beyond a normal retirement age of 65, and is liable to find their options restricted
propertyAnd it's even worse if you're 40
Arts and Entertainment
Perhaps longest awaited is the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road with Brazil’s Walter Salles directing and Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen as the Beat-era outsiders
books
Arts and Entertainment
theatreSinger to join cast of his Broadway show after The Last Ship flounders at the box office
Life and Style
fashion'To start singing with Pharrell is not that bad, no?'
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncappd Comm: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - Signs and Graphics

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The key requirements of the rol...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Digital Performance Account Director – Performance & Data Driven Marketing Technology

£45k - £55k + amazing benefits: Sphere Digital Recruitment: Digital Performanc...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Enterprise Sales Manager – SaaS based solutions – £50-60k

50,000- 60,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: Enterprise Sales Manager – SaaS ba...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible