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Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture Series
February 18, 2021 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
The Eighth Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture
Presented by the Division of Inclusion and Community Engagement at Springfield College
Tommie Smith, 1968 Olympic Gold Medalist, Social Justice Activist, and Educator
Power of a Dream. Unity Wins.
Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021
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At the 1968 Summer Olympics, Tommie Smith won the gold medal in the 200-meter sprint finals with a record-breaking time of 19.83 seconds. While on the podium during the medal ceremony and playing of the “Star Spangled Banner,” Smith raised his black glove-covered fist in the air, along with bronze-medal winning teammate John Carlos, to protest racism and injustice against African Americans in the United States. The act propelled Smith into the spotlight as a human rights spokesman, activist, and symbol for African American pride worldwide.
In this lecture, Smith will focus on the theme of “Power of a Dream. Unity Wins.”
“Don’t think that you are alone when you dream and things don’t go like you think they should go because a dream is hard to understand, especially if you don’t stay on track or move forward,” Smith said recently. “The power of a dream is yourself. Unity wins is others thinking basically on that track, but a bit different.”
“I always use the principle of don’t let people drag you so low as to hate. It means accepting the thoughts of others—you don’t necessarily have to believe. You can make your own decision down the line,” Smith said. “Like young folks are now. If you were born in 1968 or alive in 1968, you would probably disagree with what [I] did. But I look beyond my thoughts and I could see my need in terms of the sacrifice for that dream.”
Since the games of the 19th Olympiad, Smith has enjoyed a distinguished career as a coach, educator, and activist. Smith served as a faculty member at Santa Monica College for 27 years, teaching and coaching while serving on academic committees. Smith has dedicated a total of 37 years to educating and teaching youth. Smith’s courageous leadership, talent, and activism have earned him well-deserved acclaim and awards. In 2008, he earned the Peace Abby Courage of Conscience Award, and the ESPN ESPY’s Arthur Ashe Courage Award. In 2018, he received the Dresden Peace Prize.
Following the lecture, the Springfield College Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Awards will be presented to an outstanding student, employee, and Springfield community member. The awards recognize those who have made a significant contribution to diversity and inclusion on campus or in the Springfield community.
This event if free and open to the public.