Athlete. Author. Legend.


Dr. John Carlos is a medaled USA Track and Field Hall of Fame athlete and Olympian. Competing in the 200 meters, Carlos earned the Gold in the 1967 Pan American Games, and the Bronze in the 1968 Olympics. A record setter, Dr. Carlos led San Jose State to its first NCAA championship in 1969 with victories in the 100 and 220, and as a member of the 4×110-yard relay. He also set indoor world bests in the 60-yard dash and 220-yard dash at the 1967 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

As a youth growing up in Harlem, New York, John Carlos was a gifted athlete and student whose influences and sense of hard work and determination were instilled by his mother and father. It was a local police officer who first prompted a young John to pursue Track and Field as more than just a game of chase with the neighborhood kids. Dr. Carlos credits scholastic encouragement and organized athletics, along with community minded mentors, for keeping him focused, out of trouble, and the foundation for his drive to achieve and succeed.

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D r. Carlos made world history during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Mexico, when he took to the international stage during the medal ceremony and made a speechless statement, heard and seen worldwide. Winning the 200 meter, John Carlos accepted the Bronze medal at the Olympic podium wearing black socks and no shoes to represent impoverished people who had no shoes of their own, and raised a black-gloved fist crowning a bowed head to humbly reflect the strength of the human spirit. Carlos was joined in his statement by teammate and gold medalist Tommie Smith, and both were supported by silver medalist, Australian, Peter Norman who wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge..

Headlines were made around the globe and the photograph of the three medalists standing peaceably in protest at the ceremonial podium instantaneously became a historical symbol of the fight for human rights. International Olympic Committee president Avery Brundage immediately ordered Smith and Carlos suspended from the U.S. team and banned them from the Olympic Village. No penalties or repercussions were enforced on the Australian, Peter Norman by the IOC.


Following the controversial 1968 Olympic medal ceremony, all three athletes suffered lingering effects of their gesture, the most serious of which were death threats against Carlos, Smith, and their families. Contrary to reports, Carlos and Smith were not stripped of their medals.