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.
3 thoughts on “1968”
Once again i find myself writing and deleting. sometimes i am reluctant to add my own voice to such powerful work. Such a strong wonderful piece of work. I do tilt my head when i am listening and I lean slightly forward towards the speaker too. I took a hit to the head once so I am a little deaf on one side, which has created these slight mannerisms. But I will see none of the olympics.
I don’t have TV nor have I ever been sporty. I love that you can remember that wonderful moment when you saw those images of men as men and knew you were one of them. that fills me with awe. It is very long after 1968.. c
So fortunate you are to have a moment of awakening and not just mere existence. I think so many people just exist and if they do have the awakening they never express it, nor embrace it.
Mine was the first time, at age 4, when I caught my first horned toad, and brought it back home to show my mom. Her shrill voice when I displayed it no longer made me the baby girl but I truly belonged with my brothers. That was the day Paul gave me his old bike and taught me to ride it because I was cool.
I tilt my head also, mostly because I am curious if the liberation I felt (from being the little frilly dress wearer I felt when I heard my mom scream at me over a very awesome lizard in her lizardless home) is at all close to what you felt.
By the way… Thank you for this blog. Your openness and honest, unedited self is wonderful to see!!
Hi thanks for possting this
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