SJSU Sculpture – 1968 Olympics

A famous scene took place at the 1968 Olympics. At the podium, two medalists put on a black glove each, took off their shoes showing black socks, wore several symbolic items, and raised one hand each during the playing of the national anthem. The third athlete on the podium, an Australian who placed 2nd, also wore a human rights badge, matching those worn by the two Americans, in solidarity.

There is a lot that can be said about this moment. (You can get a start on it here: The two black athlete Olympians, who stood with their hands raised during the anthem as a protest to unequal treatment of people, were students at San Jose State University. They were Tommie Smith who had just set a world record and won gold in the 200m race and John Carlos who had won the bronze medal. Peter Norman was the silver medal winner from Australia who stood in solidarity with them.

Today, at SJSU, you are invited to stand with these historic SJSU alumni on the podium in the spot where a supporter once stood with them before the world.

It is a powerful statue if you take it in. It is a powerful moment if you accept the invitation and stand with them on the podium. It is an impressive work of art. It is an impressive social stand that these men took. It came with great costs for all three athletes. It came with rewards too; rewards in thoughts, awareness, conversations, and changes for others that will affect generations.

Today, you can take your stand in the middle of San Jose State University.

This piece of art helps put into context another piece of art that can be found near by at the gas station on 4th street. It reads: “Thank You.”