Olympic medalists and Civil Rights activists come to OC

Olympic medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos are this year's speakers for the third annual History Speaks lectures.
Online photo.

Olympic medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos are this year's speakers for the third annual History Speaks lectures. Online photo.

The third annual History Speak event will feature 1968 Olympic medalists John Carlos and Tommie Smith to share their stories Monday, Feb. 8.

Carlos and Smith are iconic for the efforts toward civil rights equality that they displayed during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Carlos and Smith stood out from their competitors by silently making a statement that all were equal when they won gold and bronze medals.

Multicultural and Service Learning Coordinator Gary Jones said he had trouble locating Carlos but that he refused to give up because he wanted Carlos and Smith to share their story on how they impacted the Civil Rights Movement.

“Every number I had was a dud number, so I went to a Facebook page for John Carlos Merchandising and wrote something about who I was and what I was looking for,” Jones said. “Three weeks later, I get a message with a phone number. I called and a person answered and said, ‘This is Dr. John Carlos.’ and I thought, ‘Wow, I am talking to an Olympian right now.’”

Jones said he is most excited about the opportunity to get to know Carlos and Smith behind the scenes.

“I’m obviously so excited because they get to come and share with students and the community,” Jones said. “But my favorite part is the non-public time I get to share with the speakers. Listening to them tell the behind the scenes stories of what happened.”

According to Jones, a dream for Jones and his wife to meet The Little Rock Nine sparked the idea for History Speaks three years ago.

“The first year the event was planned for sometime near the end of February,” Jones said. “But we didn’t start planning until February 1, maybe a month in advance. Even then, it’s been sold out every year.”

Since then, speakers such as Terrance Roberts and Carlotta Walls LaNier of the Little Rock Nine and Claudette Colvin and Fred Grey, who led the fight against segregation in Montgomery, Alabama, have visited Oklahoma Christian University to share their experiences.

According to Jones, the university chooses speakers for History Speaks by determining significant historical events and people important to the Civil Rights Movement or Black History Month.

Carlos and Smith will be presenting their story on Monday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. in Hardeman Auditorium. Tickets can be reserved at the box office or online.

For more information on History Speaks or on Carlos and Smith, visit Oklahoma Christian’s website.

Students are also invited to preview “Salute,” a movie recounting the events of the 1986 Olympics. The movie will be shown in Judd Theater Thursday, Feb. 4 at 3:30 p.m. No ticket is necessary.

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