Tommie Smith, John Carlos Sculpture Unveiled at San José State University
San José, Calif.
The three-year effort at San José State University to honor 1968
Olympic gold and bronze medal winners and SJSU student activists, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, culminated on Oct. 17, with the unveiling of a 20-foot sculpture in the university’s Sculpture Garden. Smith and Carlos made one of the most controversial political statements in the history of the Olympic Games when they raised their black-gloved fists in the Black Power salute on the victory podium after claiming medals in the 200-meter dash. Australian Peter Norman, the silver medalist who was with them on the victory podium and supported their stand, also attended the day-long celebration. The campaign to commemorate the legacy was conceived and led by the SJSU student government organization, Associated Students.
Designed by artist Rigo 23, the sculpture depicts the moment when Smith and Carlos took their stand for human rights, a silent protest that was seen around the world. The figures are clothed in hand-cut ceramic tiles, modeled in fiberglass and sustained by a steel structure. Their likenesses are cast in bronze. Besides the innovative use of the materials, Rigo used state-of-the-art 3D scanning technology and computer-assisted virtual imaging to take actual full-body scans of the athletes.
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