Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ legacy continues in San Jose state


It’s amazing to think that something that happened 53 years ago this month in Mexico City still matters. But it is, and especially in the state of San Jose.

This is because on October 16, 1968, Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their gloved fists on the Olympic medal podium after winning gold and bronze medals in protest against the treatment suffered by black Americans to the House. It was a highlight the state of San Jose didn’t celebrate for years until a student-led group pushed for larger-than-life statues of athletes to be placed in the center of campus in 2005. .

Robert Griffin, former administrator of De Anza College who was Tommie Smith’s roommate during the “Speed ​​City” era, speaks on October 19, 2021 in San Jose State at an event marking the 53rd anniversary of the famous Olympic event of Smith and John Carlos. (Sal Pizarro / Staff)

“The actions they took that day still reverberate around the world, across the nation and on this campus,” San Jose state sociology professor Scott Myers-Lipton said on Tuesday at ‘a celebration to mark the demonstration held in front of the statues. He led a series of speakers including Robert Griffin, former administrator of De Anza College and Smith’s roommate during the ‘Speed ​​City’ era, and Akilah Carter-Francique, associate professor in the department of African studies and executive director of the Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change.

“This is a time to remember the efforts of Smith and Carlos,” said Carter-Francique, “but it is also a time to understand that there is a legacy among what they shared and that others can glean hope from what they’ve done and also step into those shoes, stand on that podium, raise their fists, amplify their voices and really push for change.

To that end, Tuesday also marked the release of “Racial and Social Justice at San Jose State University: Students Respond with Social Action,” a brochure from the university’s Human Rights Institute – and available on its website, www.sjsu.edu/hri, which documents 10 student social justice events and actions over the years.

In addition to Smith and Carlos’ famous gesture, which includes using the San Jose State Gymnasium to treat over 6,000 residents of Japanese descent for internment during WWII; the burial of a new Ford Maverick on campus in 1971 as part of the first Earth Day movement; and the Chicano Beginnings and Walkout that took place in 1968. There’s even a chapter on the poem “The Man With the Hoe,” an 1899 poem by California State Normal School graduate Edwin Markham, who criticized exploitation of workers.

“The institute hopes that the faculty and staff of SJSU will use the booklet to educate our students about this legacy of justice that runs through the history of our campus,” Myers-Lipton said, adding that although a Some Bay Area public university has long been lauded for its credibility in social justice, “The State of San Jose has been a real force for change in this community. “

THEATREWORKS ARTISANAL PICNIC: While Robert Kelley retired from the management of TheatreWorks Silicon Valley in June 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented him from getting a good start. That changes this weekend, as TheareWorks hosts Sunday in the Park with Kelley, an outdoor picnic on October 24 at the Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga. It should be a fantastic event worthy of the five-decade legacy of the company’s founding artistic director.

The festivities, which will run from 10 am to 4 pm, will include a “Kelley Museum” of memorabilia, games, drinks and food and a few performances in her honor. Tickets, which range from $ 50 to $ 500, are available at www.theatreworks.org/special-events and will support TheatreWorks Silicon Valley productions. This includes a staging of the musical “Ragtime” in June 2022 which will be directed by – you guessed it – Robert Kelley.

ATTENTION SHORT HOLD THEATER: There’s good news for moviegoers this week as the San Jose International Short Film Festival returns for its 13th year – and this time in person at the CineArts cinema in Santana Row. The festival begins with an opening night on October 21 and offers a program of more than 100 short films divided into 15 screening blocks.

As usual, festival founders Bill Hargreaves and Sinohui Hinojosa have something for everyone, with selections from comedy, sci-fi and horror, animation, world cinema, documentaries and filmmakers. dramas. Thursday’s opening night block will be a four-day festival sample set, but there’s also a presentation of the best films from the 2020 festival, held virtually. You can check the timetables and buy tickets at www.sjsff.com.


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