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    This year the Olympics take place in Sydney, Australia. As anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of British colonial history knows, Australia began as a penal colony for the British Empire. To make room for its outcasts, Britain attempted to clear the land of its inhabitants, human and otherwise. Just as the indigenous Americans were slaughtered and pushed from their lands, so were the aboriginal peoples on the fifth continent. Likewise, many of those who survived the various assaults on their lands and people were "resettled" and their children were stolen. Once stolen, these innocents were stripped of their cultural identity via adoption and the white man's educational system, creating what Aboriginals now call the stolen generation.

         Over time, a movement demanding an apology and reparations to survivors of this crime against humanity has gathered steam in Australia. The members of the movement hope to use the Olympics as a forum for redress of their grievances-a truly uphill struggle given the general attitude of many in the Australian government who still don't understand the effects of their predecessors' policy and absolutely refuse to apologize. As a more cosmic justice would have it, however, one of Australia's most popular athletes, Cathy Freeman, is not only an Aboriginal, she is also a strong supporter of the movement calling for justice to the aboriginal peoples. Although Aboriginal activists have encouraged her to stay out of the developing fray, she recently spoke out, saying in an interview that appeared in the British paper the Sunday Telegraph: "I was so angry because they were denying they (the Australian government) had done anything wrong, denying that a whole generation was stolen." The calls for an apology and reparations are reminiscent of similar calls in this country for an apology and reparations to the descendants of those enslaved by the whites not so many generations ago. Likewise, the use of the Olympics as a forum for redress are reminiscent of the protest by African and African-American athletes before and during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.

         The history of black athletes in white America reflects the history of African-Americans in general. Before the integration of pro sports, blacks had their own leagues in baseball and basketball. The Negro Baseball Leagues featured some of the best players in the sport and when the major leagues finally began to integrate, the Negro Leagues faded as black players were hired by teams in the majors. Boxing was the first sport to be infiltrated by blacks--although it too had its own association until the early 1900s. Jack Johnson was the Black boxing champion when he met the white boxing champion Tommy Burns in 1908 and beat him.

         The discrimination against African-American athletes was even worse in college athletics. Not only were black athletes prevented from attending white colleges, they did not compete against their athletic teams very often either. However, the sixties changed that. Along with integration came the first wave of African-American athletes playing for previously all-white college teams. Many of these athletes, like today, were not courted for their academic ability, but only for their athletic ability. Still, however, these young men did not get any full scholarships--these were reserved for white athletes. Also like today, graduation was not given much priority by the players' coaches or respective athletic departments. Blacks were forbidden from joining fraternities, subject to racist remarks and acts by fellow students and teammates, and due to their very small numbers, pretty much isolated. As Harry Edwards wrote in his book, The Revolt of the Black Athlete: "The only difference between the black man shining shoes in the ghetto and the black sprinter is that the shoeshine man is a nigger and the sprinter is a fast nigger."

         As part of an ongoing struggle for just treatment in US collegiate and other amateur competition, African American athletes and their supporters begin to consider a boycott of the 1968 Olympics under the auspices of a new organization called the Olympic Project for Human Rights. World-class runner Tommie Smith was quoted after some track and field trials early that year in Japan as stating that "there may be a boycott" when asked by a Japanese reporter.

         Later that spring, Black students and athletes at San Jose State asked for better treatment. With the tutelage and complete support of Professor Harry Edwards (also an African-American), they met with the dean of students who told them to go away since he didn't have time to deal with such a small number of students (70 out of a total enrollment of 5000). With this rejection, the students began to plan for a rally on the first day of classes the next fall. The rally began with only 135 students: 100 or so whites and 35 or so blacks, but by noon close to 700 were in attendance including faculty and staff. The demands of the rally were surprisingly mild:

    • Public deliberation of all problems and proposed solutions relevant to the situation of minority gorups at SJS.
    • Public pledges that no housing of any kind, including frats and sororities, will be open to all students wishing to live there.
    • That all social and political organizations be open to all students and that this be proven by spring 1968.
    • That all athletic recruits be treated the same in the recruiting process.
    • That the athletic dept. disassociate itself from racist fraternities
    • That the college provide tutoring to all those who desire it.
    • That the student government be representative of all students, not just a corrupt group of racists.
    • There was no response, so the first football game of the 1967 season was boycotted and picketed by black players and their supporters.
         On November 22 and 23rd, a national Black Youth Conference was held in Los Angeles--several college athletes attended and the boycott was discussed. UCLA basketball player Kareem Abdul Jabbar (who was still going by the name his parents had given him, Lew Alcindor) told why he supported the boycott: Everybody knows me. I'm the big basketball star, the weekend hero, everybody's All-American. Well, last summer I was almost killed by a racist cop shooting at a black cat in Harlem. He was shooting on the street--where masses of black people were standing around or just taking a walk. After all, we were just niggers. I found out last summer that we don't catch hell because we aren't basketball stars or don't have money. We catch hell because we are black. Somewhere each of us has got to make a stand against this kind of thing. This is how I make my stand--using what I have. And I take my stand here.

         In the weeks following the conference, Tommie Smith made public the contents of some of the hate mail he had been receiving for his comments regarding the Olympic boycott. In the meantime, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) invited the apartheid sports teams of South Africa to the 1968 Olympics, prompting an immediate outcry and an expansion of the boycott call to include most of the African nations, all of the communist nations, and many non-aligned countries. Simultaneously, it was revealed in the press that Avery Brundage, the head of the IOC, was a part owner of a country club that forbade membership to Jews and blacks. Eventually, the IOC succumbed to the ever-growing international pressure and rescinded its invitation to South Africa.

         The American athletes vowed to continue the boycott, but it eventually fell apart--people were thinking of their careers and the harassment and intimidation was reaching the point where some of the athletes were receiving threats to their lives and the lives of their loved ones. An alternative path was decided on: no African-American athlete would take the victory stand when they won. Only weeks before the Olympics began, Mexican students took over the National University, supported by thousands of their countrymen and women. On October 2, ten days before the Games opened, Mexican security forces opened fire on a rally in the La Plaza de las Tres Culturas at Tlatelolco in Mexico City, killing hundreds. Although the harassment and intimidation of athletes supporting the boycott movement was not even close to the massacre of the students and their supporters, the intention was the same--to stifle protest. The Olympics almost didn't take place.

         On the first day of the competition two African American runners, Jim Hines and Charles Greene, won the 100-meter dash. When the two sprinters took the victory stand, neither man did anything but stand at attention as they received their medals while the US flag was raised. Then came the 200-meter dash. Tommie Smith took the gold, John Carlos the bronze. Although they had been intimidated and harassed like the other athletes, when the US flag began rising up the flagpole and the anthem played, the two men bowed their heads and raised their black-gloved fists in a black power salute. The silver medalist was a runner from Australia named Peter Norman who wore the patch of the Olympic Committee for Human Rights (OCHR-sponsor of the boycott movement) in solidarity with Smith and Carlos.

         Within hours, the two African American men were expelled from the Olympic Village and were stripped of their medals. This was one of the decade's simplest and most effective protests. As the games continued, other athletes from a number of nations protested the treatment of the two in various ways. The results of the Olympic protest and the movement of black student athletes changed the world of black athletes in many ways, yet much remains to be resolved. It's somewhat ironic, although not necessarily surprising that, as African American athletes make more and more money, their solidarity with one another and with the rest of the African-American community seems to diminish.

         What were white student and amateur athletes doing? Well, for the most part, nothing. However there were a few individuals who worked with the OCHR and spoke out against the war and racism they saw on their campuses. When they did, they were often benched or kicked off the team. By 1970, however, these few individuals were joined by whole teams and, in some cases (like UC Berkeley) virtually the entire student athlete population. After Nixon invaded Cambodia and many of the nation's colleges and high schools went on strike, student athletes at UC Berkeley voted to protest en masse against the invasion. Then, following the murders of students at Kent and Jackson State later that spring, some teams cancelled workouts, while most wore black armbands during competitions and issued statements supporting the student strike as it spread across the land. In the Ivy Leagues, members of all eight schools' track and field teams issued a strong statement denouncing the war and the killings of students and the repression of the black liberation movement. The statement caused the Army and Navy teams to withdraw from the big springtime event.

         By the way, people are currently trying to start a new movement among athletes. I recently received an email talking about a conference organized by Sherman Teichman and his 30 students at Tufts University in Massachusetts, focusing on "Global Games: Sports, Politics and Society." Teichman hopes to create enough momentum to build what he was informally calling "Athletes for Social Responsibility," a new kind of organization for the 21st century to challenge the dominant values and politics of sports. Northeast Research Associates Pie in the Sky Farm 93 Dwinell Road United States doing some building for the people, they Marshfield, Vermont