The intersection of race, politics and sports was especially experiencing a “déjà vu” moment this week. Monday marked the 49th year since U.S. Olympians John Carlos and Tommie Smith each balled up his fist in a Black Power salute held high during the Mexico City Olympic Games in 1968. That came one day after Colin Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL alleging that franchise owners colluded to blackball him from professional football.
“This is like déjà vu,” Carlos told CNN earlier this month when discussing Kaepernick’s social justice-based protest as it relates to African-Americans.
The times have changed, but the demands and sentiments haven’t, Carlos said.
“We want change and we want change now. We’re tired of hearing change is coming,” he added.
“I planted seeds and 50 years later we see the fruits of our labor,” Carlos said while using a gardening metaphor to underscore decades of working for change.
“Racism is running rampant throughout this nation now,” just as it was back in 1968, Carlos noted. While Obama made strides in the right direction on that front, President Donald Trump has created a new divide, Carlos said.
That divide, he added, was being compounded by Trump’s stance on Kaepernick and the national anthem protest that is taking American sports on all levels by storm. Trump has openly questioned the patriotism of anyone who kneels for the anthem.
“Show me your true patriotism,” Carlos demanded of the president.
He and Kaepernick each experienced severe backlash following their protests, but Carlos said he was ready to do it again if need be.
“The price was worth it,” Carlos said. “I would sacrifice one more time today.”