Reflective Essay: John Carlos/ Dave Zirin Ashley Larson On Wednesday November 2 our coordinated studies class went to see John Carlos and Dave Zirin in building 7. Going in to this I thought that it was going to be boring, I didn’t even know who John Carlos was, but I was wrong. This experience changed my life. John Carlos is an inspiration to me and so many others and I hope that I can see him again soon. Dave Zirin talked a little bit before John Carlos spoke.
He introduced Carlos by saying that he is among a handful of the best track and field runners to ever live. He explained that the African American athletes at the time got treated better, and with more respect, than any other black people at the time. For this reason it was even harder for John Carlos and Tommy Smith to do what they did in 1968 because most black people wouldn’t want this taken away from them.
He said that there were 4 demands of the African American athletes to the Olympic Games; to restore Mohammad Ali’s boxing title, higher more African American coaches for Track and Field, disinvite South Africa and Rhodesia from the Olympic games (these countries represented Apartied), and lastly strip Avery Brundidge of his title as the head of the International Olympic Committee. He said that the greatest athletes of the time were the ones that used their hyper exaulted platform to make a statement about the world.
Tommy Smith and John Carlos had a huge decision to make before they did their action in 1968. They had to decide if they were willing to give up everything that they had for the bigger cause. “A person can only ride on your back if it is broken”, this is a quote from Martin Luther king that Zirin mentioned. This really stood out to me because it is true. In John Carlos’s case his back wasn’t broken; no one could break it and get him down no matter how hard they tried. After the amazing introduction by Dave Zirin we got to hear John Carlos speak.
Throughout his entire speech/lecture/ whatever you want to call it, he was so real and honest. He started from the beginning of his life and how he was raised in Harlem. He Told stories about himself when he was young and how much of a rebel he was sometimes. When Carlos was young he didn’t know that there was racism in the world until he was almost a teenager. There is one story in particular about his mom that he told when he first discovered that people are not all treated the same. This was a turning point in John’s life. He then went on to fight his entire life for what he believes in.
In 1968 when he put his fist in the air on the stands he chose to be free. He chose to stand for what he believed in. John Carlos is truly an inspiration to me. Throughout his entire life, all of the trails and struggles that he has had to face because of the decision he made, he never regretted it for a second. John lost his first wife because of it and everything that he had was taken from him. Some of the things that John has had to face in his life seem unbearable. It is unfathomable that he stood his ground and never looked back.
Although so many people consider him a hero he is one of the most humble people that you could ever meet. He kept saying that he is just like us; we all have the power to make change in our world. Coming from someone of that much importance was great to hear. His humility stuck out to me a lot. He never thought that he was better than someone else for a second He just thought that he was going to do what is right even though it is the unpopular thing to do. This event in 1968 changed history. John Carlos’s story connected with my life a lot because he chose to be different.
In life, it is the popular thing to just blend in with everyone else, but Carlos chose to stand out. I am a Christian and sometimes being a Christian is tough because we are supposed to be different than everyone else. Some of the things that I live by are very uncommon these days so I stand out a lot. John Carlos stood out from the crowd and that’s what made him a hero. He inspired me to not care what others think and to be myself. He also showed me that I can make a difference in this world if I really try. His positive outlook on life inspired me to live my life to the fullest.
Life is not about doing the ordinary; it is about doing the extraordinary and making history just like John Carlos did. I believe that abortion is a form of murder. That is a social injustice against an unborn child. If I were to take a stand for something that I believe in it would be abortion. I believe that those children need a chance to live their lives. I am likely to stand up for this cause but because I’m so young i don’t know what i can do at the moment. Everyone needs the chance to speak their mind without fear of ridicule from others.