Silent Gesture: Autobiography of Tommie Smith

By Tommie Smith; David Steele | Go to book overview

10
Going Underground

I STAYED AT LEE EVANS’ little house on Hawthorne Street in San Jose, in a bedroom in the back, for about a year and a half. I had to do it, to get on my feet after my divorce from Denise and after my football career ended. I needed to work. I wanted to teach, but even though I had graduated from San Jose State a while ago, I did not have my full teaching credential from the state of California. I received temporary credentials to work semester by semester, reapplying each semester. I taught the fifth grade at Ravenswood Elementary School in Milpitas, just north of San Jose, and also coached track at Milpitas High School. Early in 1972, I reapplied for my teaching credential for the following school year. I thought I was staying in California teaching elementary school for a while. But at about that time, through my old friend Art Simburg, I met Jack Scott.

I didn’t know who Jack Scott was, but I soon found out. He was a radical-thinking man who had edited a magazine in Berkeley around the same time I was at San Jose State and had written books, such as The Athletic Revolution, that challenged the system that dictated coaching, authority, and athletes’ rights and participation at every level of sports. That included the way that black collegiate athletes were exploited by the white administrators, officials, and coaches at white institutions. I could relate to that. When I met him, Jack was the athletic director at Oberlin College, near Cleveland, a school that was nationally recognized for its music conservatory, not for its athletic programs. But Oberlin, Ohio, was one of the first stops on the Underground Railroad, one of the first places in the North for slaves escaping the plantations. Oberlin was the first college in the United States to admit women and the first to admit blacks; among its alumni were Ralph Bunche, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, and legendary black journalist Carl Rowan. It has a great history.

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Silent Gesture: Autobiography of Tommie Smith
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • 1 - Welcome Home 1
  • 2 - October 16, 1968 20
  • 3 - Out of the Fields 42
  • 4 - The Biggest City I Had Ever Seen 73
  • 5 - Run before You Walk 95
  • 6 - The Coach and the Professor 114
  • 7 - Linked Forever 135
  • 8 - No Gold, No Glove 148
  • 9 - Paying the Price 172
  • 10 - Going Underground 194
  • 11 - Families Lost, and Found 211
  • 12 - It Will Outlive Me 233
  • Epilogue - Silent and Eternal 255
  • Acknowledgments 259
  • Index 261
  • About the Authors 267
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