Meeting a Legend

by Meg Waldron, Physical Education teacher and track coach

On September 28, TPS 7th grader Madison Harris wasn’t expecting to be invited up to the front row of a packed auditorium to meet an Olympic legend, but she was.

The avid trackster and Penn Relays participant attended an evening at Haverford College with her mom, April, along with me and TPS Director of Enrollment Management and Diversity Frances Hoover. The speaker that evening was John Carlos, the Olympic legend and civil rights icon who is most famous for raising a black-gloved fist into the air at the 1968 Olympic Games. In the iconic photo, John Carlos and a fellow teammate give the black power salute on the victory stand in peaceful protest of human rights violations and racism. Madison and company went to learn more about this moment in time and how it affected John Carlos and the world around him.

Carlos mentioned during his talk that the Penn Relays was the grandfather of all track meets. I shared with Carlos that some young athletes were in the audience, including one, Madison, who had medaled at the Penn Relays. Carlos invited Madison to join him in the front, shook her hand, and introduced her to the Director of the Penn Relays, saying, “Remember this girl’s face. You are going to be seeing a lot more of her.”

Carlos then invited Madison to sit in the front row for the rest of his talk, which detailed the difficult turn his life took after the Olympics, because the gloved salute had been interpreted as anti-American. Afterwards Madison was interviewed by the Star Tribune, had her racing shoes signed by Carlos, and was invited to meet the other Olympians there and be photographed with them. Madison's reaction?  She reported, "I had a lot of fun. It was an honor to meet all those Olympians."'

Read more in an October 10, 2012, article in the Philadelphia Tribune.

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