24 october 1968 & john carlos speaks at howard university, given malcolm x medallion
“This is the largest group of black people I have ever seen in one place to hear anyone speak.”
John Carlos @Howard University
#OTD 24 October 1968 Washingtonians welcomed John Carlos on the first stop of his and Tommie Smith’s nationwide tour to speak about their experiences at the Mexico Olympics and the Olympic Project for Human Rights. (Tommie Smith didn’t attend due to his mother’s illness.) Carlos, who flew in from Los Angeles, was met at the airport by Stokely Carmichael and dozens of students.
According to Carmichael, “The engagements here were arranged by me, because, of course, they must start in the nation’s capital. This city, because of its black majority, should give them a hero’s welcome.”
The day began with an 11am press conference at Ed Murphy’s Supper Club (2227 Georgia Ave NW), located one block from Howard University. There were well over a dozen media outlets in attendance.
At 1pm, Carlos spoke in front of Frederick Douglass Memorial Hall to hundreds of students. There, Q.T. Jackson, president of the Howard University Student Association, presented Carlos with a Malcolm X medallion. Carlos responded, “This is the real gold medal.”
Joan Latchis , a white student at George Washington University, took two buses to see Carlos and Carmichael. “Carmichael wore a dashiki and shades and spoke powerfully…. He was compelling. I don’t remember if…Carlos spoke at length. But I came away feeling Carmichael was saying what needed to be said and that Smith and Carlos had been treated unfairly.”
At 3:30pm, Carlos spoke at the New School of Afro-American Thought (2115-14th St NW).
Your comments are welcome below. Did you, a family member or neighbor go to National Airport to welcome John Carlos? Did you attend the press conference? Did you attend the rally at Howard University? Do you have photographs? What did you think of Carlos and Smith’s activism before, during and after the Olympics as members of the Olympic Human Rights Committee? Do you remember seeing them as they received their medals in Mexico? You may comment privately here.
Photo source: Courtesy DC Public Library Special Collections, Evening Star newspaper database. Stokely Carmichal (left) greets John Carlos at National Airport. Bernie Boston, photographer.
I’m hoping to replace this image with the original photo. There are also photographs of the press conference and the rally on Howard’s campus. I’m hoping to find video footage of the press conference.
I thank Joan (Latchis) Amory for sharing her memories with me.
Morris Siegel, “Ousted Carlos Insists U.S. Shouldn’t Count His Medal,” 24 October 1968.
Robert Maynard, “Banished Olympic Medalists to Speak in DC Thursday,” Washington Post 23 October 1968.
Robert Maynard, “ Ousted Olympian Hailed at Howard,” Washington Post 25 October 1968.