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The following will be a potentially controversial article about blacks in sports in the US, and some of the great moments involving that. If you are sensitive to this topic, do not continue reading. This is a very serious subject matter to me. If you edit this article and put anything to spam this, I will sue you, take you to congress, and force you to lose a 2009 first round draft pick.
Now, this is a three part article, this is the grand finale I will look at two major moments in sports involving race, and tell you some facts you may not remember. And some extra stuff I've added to close this series with a bang after a so-so performance in my second article. I delayed the release of this part to study even more and poured a lot of effort into this series.
Muhammmad Ali Didn't Hurt No Viet-Cong
Muhammad Ali, one of the great boxers we'll ever witness, will always be remembered for his famous stand to evade the draft. In a time in which the military was itching to draft anyone who looked good enough to go to war. Of course the Vietnam War is what I am talking about.
Ali actually was selected in the draft but failed the qualifying test as his reading and writing skills were less than average. But the US Armed Forces seemed determined to get him in and they revised the rules and he was officially a member of the military. Once the word got out, Ali declared that he would not go to Vietnam, and note these are his words:
"War is against the teachings of the Holy Qur'an. I'm not trying to dodge the draft. We are not supposed to take part in no wars unless declared by Allah or The Messenger. We don't take part in Christian wars or wars of any unbelievers." , Ali of course converted to Islam in 1964, the same year the US entered the Vietnam War.
Ali's famous statement came when he said:
"I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong. They never called me nigger."
Ali, already a heavyweight champion, not only was stripped of his boxing license by the New York State Athletic Commission, but was given the maximum sentence of 5 years in prison because he refused to step forward when his name was called for Army induction.
Imagine that, for not taking two steps, and standing up for what you believe in, and it gets you 5 years in prison. Imagine living in a country, the supposed "country of freedom", in which you are called nigger all of your life, and now you have to go to Vietnam to kill people. That's sickening, and inexcusable.
Heavyweight champion of the world, and all because he seems to have a mind of his own, and he goes to jail for it.
Of course, Ali was also hounded by racism after he won the heavyweight title against Sonny Liston. But not only did he endure it, but he stood up for what he believed was right, something no other white man or black man would do.
It's shameful that for the most part, people have forgotten what Muhammad Ali did to help pave the way for black independence in ways Martin Luther King and Malcolm X couldn't do, and that some people only focus on his tremendous boxing career. If he decides to vote for "I have to for the white people" over "I have a mind of my own, this isn't for me", then maybe he wouldn't be alive, and maybe we wouldn't be talking about this. But he paid his price, 5 years in jail vs. being dead like the many other soldiers and civilians in Vietnam is certainly a nice trade off.
Now he has Parkinson's Disease and so much brain damage from deciding to fight into his 30s against Larry Holmes and the late Trevor Berbick and his health is failing. It will be a very sad day not only in the sports world, but in the world itself, when the life of Cassius Clay, AKA Muhammad Ali is over.
I will end this topic with one more Ali quote that I will not dwell on because I don't want an all out controversy.
"No, I am not going 10,000 miles to help murder kill and burn other people to simply help continue the domination of white slavemasters over dark people the world over. This is the day and age when such evil injustice must come to an end."
The 1968 Mexico City Olympics: Black Power
I will not get into the killings in Mexico or George Foreman waving the American flag, that has absolutely no relevance to this story.
Tommie Smith and John Carlos, both former football players, represented the United States in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, just months after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
In the 200m race, Smith finished first, Carlos finished third, and Peter Norman of Australia edged Carlos and finished 2nd. There is a major significance in that photo of the 3 men receiving their medals at the podium. Notice neither Smith or Carlos is wearing shoes, but wearing black socks, representing poverty. Carlos also has a black scarf around him to represent all black people. Both Carlos and Smith also had black gloves and raised their fists in the air, which is known as probably the most famous gesture in Olympic history, and they were booed loudly after the Star Spangled Banner was complete.
One of Smith's quotes was:
"If I win, I am American, not a black American. But if I did something bad, then they would say I am a Negro. We are black and we are proud of being black. Black America will understand what we did tonight." - Quote from Wikipedia, and then verified again from books at the local library.
Before I get to my opinion, I would like to take this opportunity to inform you of the importance of what the white Australian, Peter Norman, also did. He, like Smith and Carlos, wore a badge for their support of the OPHR, or the Olympic Project for Human Rights. He was very much supporting the actions of Smith and Carlos, and was against Australia's White Policy, in which any non-white person emigrating to Australia was strictly prohibited (until 1973 of course).
The aftermath of this courageous effort on the part of all three men, resulted in Smith and Carlos being banned from Olympic competition, Norman being reprimanded in Australia and left off the Olympic team of 1972 in Munich despite qualifying countless numbers of times in the 100m and 200m trials.
Smith and Carlos almost got the entire US track team banned because then IOC president Avery Bundrage did not see the appropriateness of inserting a political statement in an event that was supposed to rid ourselves of politics, and just have sport.
The reaction here in the US was outrageous. Time magazine essentially antagonized the men, Carlos and Smith received death threats, sort of like a "how dare you?" time of movement that gave them no right to protest.
Sadly, Norman died in 2006 of a heart attack, while Smith and Carlos, who were the pallbearers at his funeral, are still alive and well.
So speaking for your race and protesting what white America did in that time span is a disgrace? Civil rights went out the door and you should just keep your mouth shut and grin and bear it? Well that makes us no different than Russia, the supposed communist country as far as having a right to say what you want or having rights.
What Carlos and Smith (even Norman, considering where he came from and the fact that he was white), did was courageous, brave, and in a way, wise. They probably didn't care that they were going to get banned from the Olympics, they had to have figured that if they wanted to make a statement to the entire World that they were standing up for blacks in America, the Olympics would be perfect.
I applaud them, I applaud their efforts, and you guys should think about what would've happened if black people like Smith, Carlos, King, Malcolm X, and many others never had, even an ounce of bravery in them. Imagine if there was never a whimper from any black person, we could still be looking at a segregated nation, and the idea of having a black man or woman in charge of...well...anything would be looked upon as ludicrous.
These are your true American heroes people.
What Didn't Make the Cut
Doug Williams, first black QB to win Super Bowl, Super Bowl MVP
Larry Doby, first black baseball player in the American League.
Joe Lewis, former heavyweight champion
Al Attles, first black coach to win an NBA Finals (Golden State Warriors, and it's the Warriors only title mind you).
If We Lived in a World Without Racism
This is a little poem (I'm horrible at poems, but I want to give this a try) I've written on a world without racism.
If we lived in a world without race
Maybe we would live peacefully, in a better place
We could sing, play, and eat together without racism on our case
Racism? Not even one trace
But on the other hand, with all of the historical events
If we never had racism, having all of these protests wouldn't make much sense
I Have a Dream wouldn't have existed, hence
MLK, Malcolm X, would all be silenced
Almost a perfect world at hand
Carlos and Smith needn't take a stand
No need to segregate, no need to reprimand
A world without racism, that's just grand
I would like to take this opportunity to thank every user here for their input, thoughts, and encouragement in this series. Have a wonderful day.