Campus: San José State University -- April 13, 2005

San José State University to Honor Olympic Civil Rights Activists

At sculpture groundbreaking ceremony

On Friday, May 27, San Josť State University will take another step in honoring 1968 Olympic medal winners, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, by holding a groundbreaking ceremony for the sculpture, which will commemorate their silent protest in support of civil rights. The ceremony begins at noon on the Tower Hall lawn in the center of campus. The athletes will also receive honorary doctorates at the university's 148th Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 28.

Smith and Carlos gained international attention at the Olympics when they raised gloved fists on the victory stand as symbols of black power and unity. Viewed as an unpopular action at the time, the pair are now regarded as important contributors to the American civil rights movement.

In 2002, the Associated Students of SJSU spearheaded the "Commemorating A Legacy" campaign to honor the athletes and raise donations for the sculpture. Alfonso De Alba, director of Associated Students, says, "The action by Tommie Smith and John Carlos, thirty-seven years ago, has inspired students today to safeguard and promote human rights with non-violent actions."

Smith and Carlos will attend the groundbreaking along with university President Don W. Kassing, city officials and community representatives.

Smith earned his degree from SJSU in sociology and physical education and is currently a faculty member and coach at Santa Monica College. Carlos attended SJSU and is the track and field coach and school suspension supervisor at Palm Springs High School.

Both Smith and Carlos will receive the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, conferred by California State University and San Josť State, at the university's Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 28, at 9:30 a.m. at Spartan Stadium (Seventh and Alma Streets).

Contact: Nancy L. Stake at 408-924-1166

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