(With an UPDATE on August 19)
Most discussions of one of the most iconic images of the 20th century – the Human Rights Salute more popularly known as the Black Power Salute – focus on two men and neglect the fact that three  took part in that gesture. All three suffered for it and while the more famous two were eventually rehabilitated and hailed as heroes in their country, the third died unsung.

Tommie Smith, Peter Norman and John Carlos staged that defiant gesture at the 1968 Mexico Olympics.

Black Americans Smith and Carlos paid for it, of course, by being sent home immediately. But they were hailed as heroes by Blacks back home and eventually the nation was reconciled to the importance of what they did on 16 October 1968.

Norman, the Australian, was never accepted back fully by his country’s establishment.

Smith and Carlos honoured him when he died in 2006, by acting as pallbearers at his funeral.

The following are some links that give an idea of Peter Norman’s contribution. Here’s hoping more people will see the acclaimed documentary film, Salute, in the run-up to another summer Olympics and get better acquainted with his important role as the Third Man in the picture.

“Go and tell your kids the story of Peter Norman”, openDemocracy, 15 June 2012 [by your blogger]

An important update: “Australian Government Will Issue Overdue Apology to 1968 Olympic Hero Peter Norman”

Uli Schmetzer was Reuters correspondent in Mexico City in 1968 and witnessed the Salute

‘Tell your kids about Peter Norman’, The Age of 10 October 2006 after his funeral:

Peter Norman’s Olympic statement, Courier Mail, 8 October 2006

‘The other man on the podium’The BBC, 17 October 2008:

‘50 stunning Olympic moments No13: Tommie Smith and John Carlos salute’ The Guardian, 8 February 2012

‘John Carlos, 1968 Olympic U.S. Medalist, on the Revolutionary Sports Moment that Changed the World’, Democracy Now, 11 October 2011

IMDB page on Salute, the film:

‘Salute to a champion’, The Age, 15 July 2008

Film review in The Age, 17 July 2008

Last stand for Newtown’s ‘three proud people’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 July 2010

‘Australia’s forgotten Black Power hero’, CNN, 24 April 2012

‘Matt Norman – Salute’ Timeout Sydney, July-Aug 2008

Official website of Salute, the move

About walkerjay

The author, N. Jayaram, a journalist now based in Bangalore after more than 23 years in East Asia (mainly Hong Kong and Beijing) and 11 years in New Delhi, was with the Press Trust of India news agency for 15 years and Agence France-Presse for 11 years and is currently engaged in editing and translating for NGOs and academic institutions.
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  1. shovonc says:

    Thanks for digging up this wonderful story.

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