Smith, Carlos Pay Final Respects to Norman

Tommie Smith, left, and John Carlos, front right, serve as pallbearers at the funeral of Peter Norman.
Tommie Smith, left, and John Carlos, front right, serve as pallbearers at the funeral of Peter Norman. (Associated Press)
Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Tommie Smith and John Carlos , who gave the black power salutes at the 1968 Olympics, were reunited for the last time with the third man on that podium.

Smith and Carlos attended the funeral of Peter Norman , the Australian sprinter who died last week of a heart attack at age 64. The two Americans were pallbearers yesterday at the funeral attended by about 800 people at a town hall in Williamstown, Australia, a Melbourne suburb.

"He was a lone soldier in Australia," Carlos said. "Many people in Australia didn't particularly understand. Why would that young white fella go over and stand with those black individuals?"

Norman won the silver medal in the 200 meters at the Mexico City Games, his time of 20.06 seconds still a national record. Smith set a world record in winning the gold medal and Carlos took the bronze, and their civil rights protest became a flash point of the 1968 Olympics.

Smith and Carlos stood shoeless, each wearing a black glove on his raised, clenched fist. They bowed their heads while "The Star-Spangled Banner" played.

Norman, a physical education teacher, stood on the podium during the Olympic ceremony. He wore a human rights badge on his shirt in support of the two Americans and their statement against racial discrimination in the United States.

"Peter never flinched, he never turned his eye or his head," Carlos said. "When I looked into his eyes, I saw nothing but love."

A statue commemorating the protest was erected last year at San Jose State University, where Smith and Carlos were students. Norman supported the decision to have his position on the statue left vacant.

"He said, 'I was merely a rock cast into deep still waters.' The ripples from that tiny rock I pray will flow to the shores . . . of love so that everybody will know the humanitarian acts that we will all accept someday," Smith said.

-- From News Services

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