Essay Writing Samples

Essay on the 1968 Olympics

This is a sample essay that focuses on the 1986 Olympics and the resulting controversy over the use of the Black Power Salute by two American athletes.

1968 Olympics and the Black Power Salute

The outrage of the Black athletes to boycott the Games after such a double standard is conceivably the correct option given Brundage’s handling of the 1936 Olympics which offered a similar spectacle. Since their raising of the fists, Smith and Carlos have been ostracized and treated like despicable vermin and been the subject of death threats. We should be sympathetic to their cause. Smith and Carlos believed they were doing the right thing by raising their fists and within the objective of human rights and its agenda in the world, they were. How can any of us argue against that? Despite apparent racial tension, The United States has always proclaimed to stand for the rights of all; however it does not appear that this is the case given the treatment that Smith and Carlos have been subjected to since their demonstration.

The Olympic boycott

So what will this so-called boycott that the Black athletes do? The definition of a boycott is an act of willingly abstaining from dealing with a particular event or organization, or even person as an expression of protect. This is typically done for social or political reasons. In the case of Smith and Carlos, and Norman for that matter; the direct conclusion of the situation is for the Black athletes to boycott the games.

While protests have often drawn many different kinds of endings, this is the only way in order for the message of equality and human rights to get across that Black people (athletes included) are more than just objects for the United States to play. Mere chess pieces that can be moved around for the purpose of highlighting the so-called mom’s apple pie and American flag freedoms.

There is much to be said about the fundamental aspect of a boycott. Even more to be said about the significance of Black athletes boycotting the Olympic Games. These athletes have to and must take a stand especially since Brundage was one of the most prominent Nazi sympathizers following the Second World War. This expulsion of Smith and Carlos from the Games is nothing to quote a spokesman for the IOC, “deliberate.”

The message that this will send is one of racial equality, respect for the fellow man even in the arena of sport and hopefully a discussion on human rights and its importance. But Smith and Carlos were right to perform their protest for the rights of all people, even in the murkiness of what “was already [a] deeply divided [United States] over the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement, and the serial traumas of 1968—mounting antiwar protests, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, the beating of protesters during the Democratic National Convention by Chicago police—put those rifts into high relief.”

Regardless of these events, it was the time and place for such a demonstration.


There will undoubtedly be those who are unmoved by the boycott saying that the United States can prevail and be successful in the Games without black athletes. Is this true? Unfortunately, a crystal ball can be looked at or a magic 8 ball can’t be shaken to give us a glimpse of what is to come with this boycott, or even what is to come of Smith and Carlos, and their demonstration. It is important that the black athletes not err on the side of caution and cease boycotting the Olympic Games. It is not a matter of whether a boycott is the right thing to do or not, it is that it is the only thing that can be done to send a serious message.

Work Cited

“BBC ON THIS DAY | 17 | 1968: Black athletes make silent protest.” BBC News – Home. (accessed March 22, 2013).

“Black power – FamousPicturesMagazine.” Main Page – FamousPictures. (accessed March 22, 2013).

“Boycott – Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary.” Dictionary and Thesaurus – Merriam-Webster Online. (accessed March 23, 2013).

Davis, David . “Olympic Athletes Who Took a Stand | People & Places | Smithsonian Magazine.” History, Travel, Arts, Science, People, Places | Smithsonian Magazine. (accessed March 23, 2013).

Edwards, Harry . “The
Athlete.” Arkansas Tech University. (accessed March 22, 2013).

“Nazi Olympics, Berlin 1936.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. (accessed March 22, 2013).

“The Olympics: Black Complaint – TIME.” Breaking News, Analysis, Politics, Blogs, News Photos, Video, Tech Reviews –,9171,900397,00.html (accessed March 23, 2013).

“Peter Norman.” History Learning Site. (accessed March 22, 2013).

Smith, Tommie. Silent Gesture: The Autobiography of Tommie Smith. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2008.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” Welcome to the United Nations: It’s Your World. (accessed March 22, 2013).

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