Sunday, October 11, 2015

The White Man in That Photo

I've seen this photo many, many times and my eye was always drawn to the two black Americans, Tommie “The Jet” Smith and John Carlos, with their hands raised in a black power salute at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. The white man with them on the podium is Australian athlete Peter Norman who ran the race of a lifetime, winning a silver medal. He finished the race at 20.06, his best performance ever, an Australian record that still stands today, 47 years later. Although he didn't raise his hand in a salute he asked to wear the Olympic Project for Human Rights badge in solidarity with his fellow athletes and he paid dearly for this choice.

Four years later at the 1972 Summer Olympics that took place in Munich, Germany, Norman wasn’t part of the Australian sprinters team, despite having run qualifying times for the 200 meters thirteen times and the 100 meters five times. He became an outcast in his own country but he never regretted his decision to stand up for social injustice.
In 2012, 6 years after Norman's death, the Australian Parliament finally approved a motion to formally apologize to Peter Norman and rewrite him into history.

Norman's nephew Matt has written, directed and produced “Salute,” a documentary about his uncle:

It's an interesting story. Read more here


xoxoxoBruce said...

I came across this story a couple years ago. It lowered my opinion of the Aussie sports officials, and Australia in general. There's a lot of athletes who would benefit from being taken down a peg, but the way they screwed that man is unconscionable.

The Nag said...

Such a sad story.

Kevin said...

This was an incredible story. I wish more people knew it.

Sharktooth said...

An interesting story. I had no idea there had been apartheid in Australia.

The Nag said...

Lot's of race issues ther to this day.