Daily Almanac for Sunday, October 16, 2022

On this date in 1968, Two American black athletes at Olympic Games, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, demonstrate for black power while receiving their medals. They are suspended by the Olympic Committee. Tommie Smith (center) and John Carlos (right) showing the raised fist on the podium after the 200 m race at the 1968 Summer Olympics. By Angelo Cozzi (Mondadori Publishers), Public Domain,commons.wikimedia.org


Tommie C. Smith (born June 6, 1944) is an American former track and field athlete and former wide receiver in the American Football League. At the 1968 Summer Olympics, Smith, aged 24, won the 200-meter sprint finals and gold medal in 19.83 seconds – the first time the 20-second barrier was broken officially. His Black Power salute with John Carlos atop the medal podium to protest racism and injustice against African-Americans in the United States caused controversy, as it was seen as politicizing the Olympic Games. It remains a symbolic moment in the history of the Black Power movement.

John Wesley Carlos (born June 5, 1945) is an American former track and field athlete and professional football player. He was the bronze-medal winner in the 200 meters at the 1968 Summer Olympics, where he displayed the Black Power salute on the podium with Tommie Smith. He went on to tie the world record in the 100-yard dash and beat the 200 meters world record (although the latter achievement was never certified). After his track career, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Canadian Football League but retired due to injury.

He became involved with the United States Olympic Committee and helped to organize the 1984 Summer Olympics. Following this, he became a track coach at Palm Springs High School. He was inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame in 2003.

He is the author, with sportswriter Dave Zirin, of The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World, published in 2011 by Haymarket Books.


Leading up to the Olympics, at the U.S. Olympic Trials at Echo Summit, California, San Jose State teammate John Carlos beat Smith and his world record, running 19.92A. John Carlos’ record was disallowed because of the brush spike shoes he was wearing, as was a similar record by Vince Matthews in the 400 meters.

As a member of the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR) Smith originally advocated a boycott of the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games unless four conditions were met: South Africa and Rhodesia uninvited from the Olympics, the restoration of Muhammad Ali‘s world heavyweight boxing title, Avery Brundage to step down as president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the hiring of more African-American assistant coaches. As the boycott failed to achieve support after the IOC withdrew invitations for South Africa and Rhodesia, he decided, together with Carlos, to not only wear their gloves but also go barefoot to protest poverty, wear beads to protest lynchings, and wear buttons that said OPHR.

At the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico, Smith nursed an injured groin into the 200m final. In the race, teammate Carlos powered out to the lead through the turn, while Smith got a slow start. Coming off the turn, Smith charged past Carlos and sped to victory. Knowing he had passed his training partner and closest opponent, his victory was so clear, he raised his arms to celebrate 10m before the finish line. Still, he improved upon his own world record that would last for 11 years until Pietro Mennea would surpass it on the same track. Smith’s time of 19.83 was among the first automatically timed world records for the event as recorded by the IAAF.

Tommie Smith (center) and John Carlos (right) showing the raised fist on the podium after the 200 m race at the 1968 Summer Olympics; both wear Olympic Project for Human Rights badges. Peter Norman (silver medalist, left) from Australia also wears an OPHR badge in solidarity with Smith and Carlos.

Video on YouTube pre-Olympic trials interview anticipating potential action

Carlos and Smith made headlines around the world by raising their black-gloved fists at the medal award ceremony. Both athletes wore black socks and no shoes on the podium to represent African-American poverty in the United States. In support, Peter Norman, the silver medalist who was a white athlete from Australia, participated in the protest by wearing an OPHR badge.

IOC president Avery Brundage deemed it to be a domestic political statement unfit for the apolitical, international forum the Olympic Games were intended to be. In response to their actions, he ordered Smith and Carlos suspended from the US team and banned from the Olympic Village. When the US Olympic Committee refused, Brundage threatened to ban the entire US track team. This threat led to the expulsion of the two athletes from the Games.

A spokesman for the IOC said Smith and Carlos’s actions were “a deliberate and violent breach of the fundamental principles of the Olympic spirit.” Brundage, who was president of the United States Olympic Committee in 1936, had made no objections against Nazi salutes during the Berlin Olympics. He argued that the Nazi salute, being a national salute at the time, was acceptable in a competition of nations, while the athletes’ salute was not of a nation and therefore unacceptable.

Smith and Carlos faced consequences for challenging white authority in the U.S. Ralph Boston, a black U.S. long jumper at the 1968 games, stated: “The rest of the world didn’t seem to find it such a derogatory thing. They thought it was very positive. Only America thought it was bad.” The men’s gesture had lingering effects for all three athletes, the most serious of which were death threats against Smith, Carlos and their families. Following their suspension by the IOC, they faced economic hardship.

Smith stated in later years that “We were concerned about the lack of black assistant coaches. About how Muhammad Ali got stripped of his title. About the lack of access to good housing and our kids not being able to attend the top colleges.”


Noah Webster’s Birthday

Noah Webster, America’s first lexicographer, was born on October 16, 1758. We remember Webster as the author of the first American dictionary, but he was also the first authority to advocate American English. His American Spelling Book, published in 1783 (later known as Webster’s Elementary Spelling Book), was the first to Americanize the spelling of English words such as colour and labour by dropping the u. He also espoused American pronunciation and usage. In a very real sense, Webster gave us the language that Americans think of as English. An estimated 60 million copies of Webster’s speller were sold during its first hundred years in print. In 1828, Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language was published, with 12,000 more words and about 40,000 more definitions than any previous English dictionary.

Question of the Day

What can I use to get rid of a mildew smell in a leather bag?

It’s tough to get that smell out of leather, but here’s a suggestion. Get a large plastic garbage bag and sprinkle baking soda in it, perhaps a quarter cup. Sprinkle a bit more baking soda inside the leather bag and leave it open. Place the leather bag in the garbage bag, seal it, and let it sit for a day. If the leather bag still smells, repeat the process with a new garbage bag and new baking soda, again and again, until the smell is gone.

Advice of the Day

If dry today, a dry spring.

Home Hint of the Day

Rid books of musty odor by filling a large brown bag with crumpled newspaper, putting the books in the bag, and sealing it tight. Leave the books in the bag for a day or so, then repeat the treatment daily until the odor is gone.

Word of the Day


The celestial latitude of an object in the sky, measured in degrees north or south of the celestial equator; analogous to latitude on Earth.

Puzzle of the Day

What’s that in the Fire, and not in the Flame? What’s that in the Master, and not in the Dame? What’s that in the Courtier, and not in the Clown? What’s that in the Country, and not in the Town?

The letter R


  • Noah Webster (writer) – 1758
  • Francis Lubbock (Texas governor) – 1815
  • Oscar Wilde (author) – 1854
  • Wallace Rupert Turnbull (Canadian aeronautical engineer) – 1870
  • Eugene O’Neill (playwright) – 1888
  • Angela Lansbury (actress) – 1925
  • Suzanne Somers (actress) – 1946
  • Tim Robbins (actor & director) – 1958
  • Kellie Martin (actress) – 1975
  • John Mayer (musician) – 1977


  • Marie Antoinette (Queen of France) – 1793
  • Gene Krupa (musician) – 1973
  • Deborah Kerr (actress) – 2007
  • Barbara Billingsley (actress) – 2010
  • Dan Wheldon (race car driver) – 2011
  • Ed Lauter (actor) – 2013


  • Cape Breton Island was re-annexed to Nova Scotia– 1820
  • The Tremont House in Boston, considered by many to be the first modern first-class hotel in the US, opens– 1829
  • The first successful demonstration of ether took place at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts– 1846
  • John Brown, U.S. abolitionist, led an unsuccessful raid on government arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, in what is now West Virginia– 1859
  • Cardiff giant discovered in Cardiff, New York (near Syracuse)– 1869
  • First Quebec vs. Ontario football game– 1875
  • Margaret Sanger and others open the first birth control clinic, in Brooklyn, NY– 1916
  • Sun-Times published first Ann Landers column by Eppie Lederer– 1955
  • Two American black athletes at Olympic Games, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, demonstrate for black power while receiving their medals. They are suspended by the Olympic Committee.– 1968
  • Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize– 1973
  • The Roman Catholic College of Cardinals elected first non-Italian pope in 455 years, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Poland, who took the name John Paul II– 1978
  • 7.1 Hector Mine earthquake, Mojave Desert, California– 1999
  • A magnitude-4.0 earthquake struck about 3 miles west of Hollis Center, Maine and was felt throughout New England– 2012


  • 88 degrees F in New York City– 1879

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