Gold Medal Winning Olympian Teaches Equal Rights

Tommie Smith
Tommie Smith
Peter Greenhill
Peter Greenhill

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The American athlete who utilized his olympic gold medal-winning moment to stir the moral consciousness of a nation, spoke to prep students at Iolani, Monday morning.

Four decades after raising a gloved-hand at the 1968 olympic games, sprinter Tommie Smith, continues to spread his message of humanity, and equality for all. It's an image that endures, even 39-years after the initial impact.

Gold medal sprinter Tommie Smith, and American teammate, bronze-winner, John Carlos, silently raising their hands, on the victory stand in Mexico City -- bowing their heads in prayer.

''People ask me, why did you do it in Mexico City.  Couldn't you have done it quietly. They missed the point," said Smith.

Within moments, olympic officials sent Smith and Carlos packing for home.

Death threats, and fear, followed for years.

But now, at the age of 63, Smith is still vocally communicating his message, this time to a much younger audience.

''Since I'm a part of that issue and stood for a cause for people in my lifetime, I told sociologically about the necessity of life, which is man living with man on an equal basis."

A large poster of the historic moment hangs prominently in the classroom of Iolani teacher, Peter Greenhill.

''What he did took an incredible amount of moral courage and all too often, moral courage is in short supply," said Greenhill.  "When you look at some of things in our country and around the world, it's important to hear from somebody who wasn't afraid."

''Here I am, living a person's dream. And that's what 1968 was all about for me. It opened doors that once were closed," Smith said.

Opened with a hand, wearing a black glove.