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The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment that Changed the World (Book Review)

“I don’t think of it as the revolt of the black athlete at all. It was the revolt of the black man. Athletics was my occupation. I didn’t do what I did as an athlete. I raised my voice in protest as a man.” – John Carlos

Forty-five years will have passed this coming October since American sprinters John Carlos and Tommy Smith stood on the podium and raised their fists at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. Known as one of sport’s most memorable moments in history, Dr. John Carlos has recently authored a new memoir with sportswriter David Zirin, titled The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment that Changed the World.

Being an adamant follower of various political events that took place during the year 1968 and an open supporter and self-proclaimed freedom fighter, I was eager to pick up a copy of this memoir to further establish my knowledge of the events that took place at the 1968 Olympics along with an understanding of who Dr. Carlos truly is. Although, I have researched and followed the life of Dr. Carlos along with many other revolutionary civil rights leaders and participants, I always appreciated the chance to gain a better understanding of the person through personal autobiographies/memoirs.

This excellent memoir, which is now nominated for Outstanding Literary Work – Biography/Auto-Biography at the 43rd annual NAACP Image Awards, takes the reader on an incredible journey into the life and times prior and after the monumental events that took place in Mexico City.

Politics and sports are usually meant to never intertwine. However, there is always politics in sports. The Olympics along with any competition involving various countries from around the world have always been the common escape and place to momentarily forget whatever conflict, injustices and social hardships might be taking place around the world. It is almost like all world issues stop or at least is supposed stop while these competitions take place. Luckily for us and the world, John Carlos and Tommy Smith decided to not adhere or see it this way.

After reading the memoir I was left thinking, how could you not expect John Carlos to react and take the stance that he did that day on the podium? You would assume that any person, who experienced racism and discrimination, was a member of the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR), walked and spoke with Malcolm X, would do the same thing or react in a similar fashion. Sadly, this is not the case and one of the unique and special character traits that separates Dr. Carlos from many other black athletes who have faced similar situations. Dr. Carlos never saw himself as a black athlete; Dr. Carlos saw himself as a MAN first; A MAN that deserved the same rights and privileges like any other man. Known for administering the famous phrase “you got 48 hours” Carlos often stated this to individuals not as a threat but more as a promise that something will be done to rectify the problem. Clearly from an early age Mr. Carlos had the spirit and courage to speak on behalf of those that couldn’t or didn’t want to speak.

This memoir shows the reader that sports and politics due in fact intertwine and often play a major role in the lives of the participants and individuals in society. Very rarely do we get a chance to truly witness and appreciate individuals like Dr. Carlos. Honorable mention has to go out to Tommy Smith and the Australian sprinter Peter Norman who also participated in the silent protest on the podium. Each of these individuals endured tremendous scrutiny and backlash from their respectable countries. But like Mr. Carlos did all his life, these individuals united on the podium in one common stance and goal, delivered a tremendous silent message, ironically heard around the world.

I would definitely recommend this delightful memoir to any individuals looking to broaden their history on one of sport’s most memorable moments and on one of sport’s most humble, legendary activist/athlete/author.


Available through this site for $22.95 plus tax and applicable shipping costs. Limited signed copies are also available with the purchase of the "Legacy" package available ONLY through this site. Vist the JC68 shop for further details pertaining to this offer and to see the entire John Carlos collection.


For further information pertaining to Dr. John Carlos, visit his "official" website at

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