Killer Mike, Tommie Smith Talk Olympics Human Rights Salute - Rolling Stone
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Killer Mike, Tommie Smith Talk Olympics Human Rights Salute

“On that victory stand, I took people with me because that wasn’t me on the victory stand, that was everybody,” Smith says

Killer Mike is proving to be a skilled interviewer, showcasing his chops during a wide-ranging six-part interview with Bernie Sanders and in a discussion of Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy with Dr. Cornel West, Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner and Sanders. Recently, he sat down with Olympian Tommie Smith at his SWAG Shop in Atlanta to discuss the Gold Medalist for the 200m Dash’s iconic human rights stand taken during the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.

In the 22-minute clip, Killer Mike discusses the iconic image of Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos with their fists in the air, along with their wearing white circle human rights badges on their suits.

“The badge did represent a significant platform on what John Carlos, Tommie Smith did, it was the badge Olympic Project for Human Rights,” explains Smith. “They were synonymous to what we believed in, which is a unification of strength. It can be different color strength as long as we’re going proactively in the same direction.”

The Run The Jewels rapper discussed how the Olympians’ stance represented more than just civil rights in the United States, but that it was also for the people of South Africa, Rhodesia and solidarity for Africans around the world. Smith also went barefoot on the podium in solidarity with the poor. Silver medalist Peter Norman from Australia also wore the badge.

“When I found out that doing what I believed in, which is treating everybody on an equal standpoint, I became a better person because I wasn’t afraid to put myself there with you,” Smith says. “And on that victory stand, I took people with me because that wasn’t me on the victory stand, that was everybody. So I took everybody with me, so everybody had a part on the victory stand. When you see Tommie Smith up there, you are a part of that, because what it represents is your thought of freedom.”

All three athletes suffered intense criticism following the event and the moment stands as one of the strongest political statements made during the contemporary Olympics. “Redemptive suffering paid off because what we did we did it through spiritual love and not that spiritual hate,” Smith says.

The pair also discuss the importance of older role models and youth movements, oppressors within athletic programs and beyond, and how athletes can further movements, affect change and raise awareness.

In This Article: Killer Mike, Run the Jewels


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