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U.S. Olympian continues to advocate for social change



Little Rock, Arkansas – On Saturday, standing before dozens of people on Saturday, U.S. Olympian and civil rights activist Tommie Smith continued the conversation on human rights issues.

“Change has to be made, otherwise, you won’t be a part of it,” Smith said.

Smith was a professional athlete during the 1960s. “There’s a lot of people like I was in college, [and] I didn’t save very much, but I had knowledge of what was going on,” Smith said.

He and many other athletes lived through a social change felt across the country. “We had to run a race, get patted on the back, and go back to our dorms hungry,” Smith said.

In 1968, Smith alongside one of his teammates rose their fists on the Olympics medal podium to signal a silent call for equal rights and an end to racism and injustice. “We were obligated [and] we had a responsibility to move along,” Smith explained.

Smith wanted to remind people that the work is not over, more than 50 years later. “You have to be a part of a movement with your personality and mind and body together,” Smith said.

On Saturday, Smith talked of celebrating the social freedom that so many died for but added that the changes are still ongoing. “You don’t have to be a world champion or Baptist minister to be positive in what you have to say,” Smith described.

Smith hoped that people will understand that in order to see a shift in society, silence can’t be an option. “It’s best to speak and be heard than to stay silent and have destruction swirling around the dying body and the conversation is not a possibility,” Smith said.


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