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GlobetrottingAfrican American Athletes and Cold War Politics$
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Damion L. Thomas

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037177

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037177.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

Black Power

Black Power

International Politics and the Revolt of the Black Athlete

(p.133) 5. Black Power

Damion L. Thomas

University of Illinois Press

This chapter investigates the shifting political landscape after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act as African American athletes increasingly began to use sport to challenge continued oppression rather than celebrate racial progress. It argues that the protest gestures of Tommie Smith and John Carlos in Mexico City were a direct response to the State Department's use of African American athletes as propaganda tools. Furthermore, the chapter shows that these athletes saw themselves as picking up Malcolm X's mantle and mission. Perhaps most significant, this chapter analyzes the minimalist response from the U.S. government to the protest gestures of Smith and Carlos to demonstrate how and why international pressure ceased to be a dominant impetus for racial reform in the United States by 1968.

Keywords:   1964 Civil Rights Act, civil rights, racism, Tommie Smith, John Carlos, Malcolm X, protest gestures, racial reform, American propaganda, international politics

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