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Lee Evans, Olympic Champion Who Protested Racism, Dies

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Lee Evans, the Olympic runner who was the amongst a gaggle of Black athletes to boost their fists in protest of racism in the US on the 1968 Summer time Olympics, died Might 19 at age 74 in a hospital in Nigeria after struggling a stroke, the San Jose Mercury News stories.

Through the Mexico Metropolis video games, controversy ensued when fellow sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith, gold and bronze medalists within the 200 meter race, stood on the winners platform and held their fists up in Black energy salutes with bowed heads, whereas Australian Peter Norman stood with them. Carlos and Smith have been finally expelled from the Olympic video games.

Two days after their protest, with Carlos’ encouragement, Evans broke two world data, one within the 400 meters, working 43.86 seconds and one other whereas anchor of the 1,600 meter relay group which completed at 2 minutes, 56.16 seconds. The data stood for 20 years and 24 years, respectively.

On the winner’s platform, Evans stood with silver medalist Larry Evans and Ron Freeman, additionally Black runners, to obtain their medals. Every of them wore Black Panther-style berets and raised their fists, persevering with Carlos and Smith’s protest. Nevertheless, when the nationwide anthem was performed, they lowered their fists and eliminated their berets. The gesture might have spared them the penalty from the Worldwide Olympic Committee given to Carlos and Smith.

“I really feel I gained this gold medal for Black individuals in the US and Black individuals everywhere in the world,” Evans stated later at a press convention, according to The New York Times. The 1,600 meter relay group didn’t exhibit after profitable their medals.

“Lee Evans was one of many biggest athletes and social justice advocates in an period that produced a era of such brave, dedicated, and contributing athlete-activists,” Harry Edwards, who was with Evans on the Olympic Venture for Human Rights, told the Associated Press.

RELATED: Olympic Trials To Allow Raised Fists And Kneeling During National Anthem

Evans continued his monitor and subject profession, profitable the 400 meter races on the U.S. nationwide championships in 1969 and 1972, the Occasions says. He made the 1,600 meter relay for the 1972 Olympics in Munich, however the US couldn’t put a group collectively as a result of two athletes have been suspended for taking part in a distinct protest on the Mexico Metropolis video games.

After his working days have been over, Evans continued to teach monitor in the US, Africa and the Center East. Starting as head cross nation and assistant monitor coach at San Jose State College, and finally shifting on to direct the nationwide packages in Saudi Arabia and Nigeria, according to USA Track and Field.

Evans was inducted into the U.S. Nationwide Observe and Subject Corridor of Fame in 1983 and the U.S. Olympic Corridor of Fame in 1989. Finally, he coached packages in 20 totally different nations and joined the teaching employees on the College of Washington in 2002. He additionally served as head coach on the College of South Alabama till 2008, afterward returning to Nigeria the place he continued to teach highschool monitor and subject.

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