If Protesting Is Wrong, America Doesn’t Want to Be Right

OPINION — This week marks the 50th anniversary of that electrifying moment at the summer Olympics in Mexico City when Tommie Smith and John Carlos, accepting their gold and bronze medals in the 200-meter dash, each raised a black-gloved fist in a protest of racism and equality in the year of the “Olympic Project for Human Rights.”

They are now immortalized in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and by a sculpture at their alma mater San Jose State University — their bravery noted, their impact on society acknowledged.

But in 1968 — the year of unrest, war and the assassinations of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy — the two athletes were vilified, kicked out of the Olympic village and banished from their sport, returning home to cold shoulders and death threats.

Taking a stand on ideas that buck the status quo is seldom appreciated in its time — especially when practiced by certain U.S. citizens. Those who tell Colin Kaepernick to be more like King forget that when he was murdered, King’s disapproval numbers approached 75 percent. The years have burnished the reputation of the civil rights icon with a federal holiday in his name and current 90-plus percent approval.

That is par for the course of history.

It is something to remember as Republicans try to brand dissent as mob violence, a message led by a president who found “fine people” in an actual mob of white supremacists and Nazis who killed a woman, someone who whips his own rally crowds into frenzied bliss with calls for retribution against dissenters (answered by his fans with an occasional cowardly sucker punch to the face).

The Olympics as Diplomacy

CHARLOTTE, NC – South Korea has offered to talk with the North about joining next month’s Olympics…so could this potentially signal that the Korean Peninsula wants to use the winter games as a diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis?

The nuclear taunting between the U.S. and North Korea has escalated, with President Trump tweeting that his “button” is bigger that the North Korean leader. Will South Korea’s paying “good cop” to Trump’s “bad cop” be an opening for a compromise?

The Olympics, in the past, have been center stage for political statements that have led to diplomatic discourse – in positive and negatives ways. Will the 2018 winter games bring a breakthrough? Or is North Korea playing for time and using overtures as a way to drive a wedge between South Korea and the U.S.?

Political Contributor Mary C. Curtis offers more perspective.

NBCBLK28: Simone Manuel: Breaking Myths and Making History

When she was younger, Olympic gold-medal swimmer Simone Manuel found inspiration in Venus and Serena Williams. The beaded, braided tennis phenoms were Black and excellent, inspiring children the world over with their total domination of a sport usually seen as reserved for white people.

Fast forward to now. Kids the world over are still finding inspiration in the Williams sisters. And Manuel.

Said the Olympian: “I think it’s pretty cool that someone else can see me and realize, ‘hey, this is something I can try, this is something I can be good at,’ just to not set limitations on some of the goals they may have.”