Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Peter Norman and the Black Power Salute

"They asked Norman if he believed in human rights. He said he did. 

They asked him if he believed in God. Norman, who came from a Salvation Army background, said he believed strongly in God. 

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."


The order of the day having been read for the resumption of the debate on the motion of Dr Leigh— That this House:

(1) recognises the extraordinary athletic achievements of the late Peter Norman, who won the silver
medal in the 200 metres sprint running event at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, in a time of 20.06
seconds, which still stands as the Australian record;
(2) acknowledges the bravery of Peter Norman in donning an Olympic Project for Human Rights
badge on the podium, in solidarity with African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John
Carlos, who gave the ‘black power’ salute;
(3) apologises to Peter Norman for the wrong done by Australia in failing to send him to the 1972
Munich Olympics, despite repeatedly qualifying; and
(4) belatedly recognises the powerful role that Peter Norman played in furthering racial equality—
Debate resumed by Dr Leigh who moved, by leave, as an amendment—Omit paragraph (3), substitute:
(3) apologises to Peter Norman for the treatment he received upon his return to Australia, and the
failure to fully recognise his inspirational role before his untimely death in 2006; and
Debate continued.

Question—That the amendment be agreed to—put and passed.
Question—That the motion, as amended, be agreed to—put and passed.
-- Parliament of Australia [15]

"Today I am here for you. Why? Because I am you. We’re here forty-three years later because there’s a fight still to be won. This day is not for us but for our children to come.” 

- John Carlos addresses Occupy Wall Street, 2011

Jesse Owens:

"The black fist is a meaningless symbol. When you open it, you have nothing but fingers – weak, empty fingers. The only time the black fist has significance is when there's money inside. There's where the power lies."

Four years later in his 1972 book I Have Changed, he moderated his opinion:

"I realized now that militancy in the best sense of the word was the only answer where the black man was concerned, that any black man who wasn't a militant in 1970 was either blind or a coward."

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