Monday, 20 August 2012

"Go and tell your kids the story of Peter Norman"

I first published this blog on 11 Oct 2006. Today the Australian Parliament voted to offer Mr Norman a posthumous apology for the treatment he received subsequent to this public act of solidarity against racism.

You can see a report of the issue and the profound effect on various people by clicking here.

Click here for lovely opinion piece about the treatment of Norman.

Mural, house near Macdonaldtown Station, Sydney

At the Mexico Olympics in 1968, Australian runner, Peter Norman, won the silver medal in the 200 metres, behind gold medallist Tommie Smith, and ahead of John Carlos, two Americans.

Tommie Smith and John Carlos were pall bearers at Peter Norman's funeral on Monday. They remained friends after the moment on the victory dais in Mexico which shook the world. The photo of the event was declared by LIFE magazine and Le Monde to be one of the 20 most influential images of the 20th century.

The Americans were shoeless, an expression of their empathy with the poor, and each wore a single black glove, which they raised in a black power salute during the American national anthem. Norman stood alongside them wearing the badge of the Olympic Project for Human Rights. He fully supported their actions, and had suggested to them, that as they had only one pair of black gloves, they wear one each.

"We knew that what we were going to do was far greater than any athletic feat. He said, 'I'll stand with you'." Carlos said he expected to see fear in Norman's eyes. He didn't. "I saw love. Peter never flinched (on the dais). He never turned his eyes, he never turned his head. He never said so much as 'ouch'. You guys have lost a great soldier." Carlos said that Norman deserved to be as well-known as Steve Irwin. "Go and tell your kids the story of Peter Norman," he said.

The US Track and Field Federation has declared October 9 Peter Norman Day.

Thanks to Kate_R for telling me about this mural.

Newspaper story