I recall the summer of 1968
it harkens to me as it has every four years
It is the time of Olympic glory, but more importantly, it recalls
my awakening as a young man.
In 1968, you see, I discovered the power of Sport.
Although all little American boys
play at touch football or kickball (stickball) in city streets
even dead-end ones like mine,
it is all fun and games. Not so in 1968. I remember clearly
the time trials, and on barely color television
the Sprint – The Race, and the Salute
It was a small thing. Two fists in the air
only Tommie Smith and John Carlos, not meant as an
Act of Defiance
but as an expression of Identity.
I remember our breath being taken
if we had truly seen what we thought we saw.
And through the altitude-aided long jumps
and the records that would stand for decades
that one small declaration
held my breath. It said, “We are men,”
which should not have needed to be said
but it did.
It did not awaken the militant in me, for that had long
been awake. But it did teach me
that there were sacred barriers that need
to be breached
for the sake of the soul’s salvation
Sometimes, the walls must fall
as liberty is too precious a gift to be ignored.
There are times when the price of freedom
is well spent.
We were men, and the world must know
we do not hate
but no longer bend. It was
that Tommie and John
made their gesture, but we knew
no one but us would ever understand.
If we must stand up for whom we are
it is not a rejection of you
but affirmation of us.
And God made us. On purpose.