Silent Gesture: Autobiography of Tommie Smith

By Tommie Smith; David Steele | Go to book overview

About the Authors

Tommie Smith, one of the most celebrated track and field athletes of all time, is a member of several athletic halls of fame, including those of the Olympics and USA Track and Field. Born in Clarksville, Texas, in 1944 and raised in Lemoore, California, Smith won the gold medal in the 200-meter dash at the 1968 Olympic Games at Mexico City in a world-record time of 19.83 seconds. He is best remembered, however, for the gloved fist he raised from the victory stand during the playing of the national anthem after that race. After earning his bachelor’s degree in social sciences from San Jose State College in 1969, Smith played professional football with the Cincinnati Bengals for three years. He later earned his master’s degree in education from Cambridge College, and from 1972 to 1978 served on the faculty of Oberlin College in Ohio, as a physical education professor, track coach, and athletic director. In 1978 he became track coach and professor of physical education at Santa Monica College in California, where he served as athletic director from 2003 to 2004 before retiring in 2005. He is still in great demand on the lecture circuit and by the national and international media for his recollections of his historic stand. In 2005 he was awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters by San Jose State University for his “courageous efforts on behalf of human dignity, equality, and civil rights.” Smith and his wife, Delois Jordan-Smith, divide their time between the Los Angeles area and their home in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

David Steele has been a sports columnist at the Baltimore Sun since 2004. Previously he had spent nine years at the San Francisco Chronicle, the last five as a columnist—the first African American to hold such a position at a San Francisco daily newspaper. Before becoming a columnist, he covered professional basketball for eleven years at

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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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