200M Olympic Gold Medallist (1968), Professional Football Player, Hall of Famer, human rights spokesman, educator and coach, Dr. Tommie Smith embodies the ethos of KLF's Beacon of Excellence Award!
Tommie Smith began life quietly, born to Richard and Dora Smith on June 6, 1944, in Clarksville, Texas, the seventh of 12 children. Tommie Smith survived a life-threatening bout of pneumonia as an infant, which allowed him to carry out the work that God intended for him. Today, his historic achievements make him a nationally and internationally distinguished figure in American history. He is the only man in the history of track and field to hold eleven world records simultaneously. As a college student, Tommie amazingly tied or broke a total of 13 world records in track.
Tommie Smith received his Bachelor of Arts degree from San Jose State University in Social Science, with double minors in Military Science and Physical Education. Tommie received his Masters Degree in Sociology from Goddard Cambridge in Boston, Mass, and honorary Doctorate Degree of Humane Letters from San Jose State University (CA).
During the historic 19th Olympiad held in Mexico City, in the summer of 1968, Tommie Smith broke the world and Olympic records with a time of 19.83 seconds and became the 200-meter Olympic champion. As the Star Spangled Banner echoed in the wind, Tommie Smith and John Carlos stood on the victory podium, draped with their Olympic medals. Each raised a clinched fist, covered in a black leather glove in a historic stand for human rights, liberation and solidarity. This courageous and unexpected public protest propelled Tommie Smith into the spotlight as a human rights spokesman, activist, and symbol of African American pride at home and abroad. Cheered by some, jeered by others, and ignored by many more, Tommie Smith made a commitment to dedicate his life, even at great personal risk, to champion the cause of oppressed people. The story of the "silent gesture" is captured for all time in the 1999 HBO TV documentary, "Fists of Freedom."
Tommie Smith's courageous leadership, talent, and activism have earned him well-deserved acclaim athletic and humanitarian awards. Some highlights have been: featured in periodicals including Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek, and Ebony, 1978 inductee into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame, coaching staff of 1995 World Indoor Championship team (Barcelona), 1996 inductee into the California Black Sports Hall of Fame, 1999 Sportsman of the Millennium Award, 1999 inductee into the Bay Area Hall of Fame, 1999 inductee into the San Jose State University Sports Hall of Fame, 2000-2001 Commendation, Recognition and Proclamation Awards from the County of Los Angeles, the State of Texas, and New York City.
Since the games of the XIX Olympiad, Tommie has enjoyed a distinguished career as a coach, educator, athletic director and activist.
Learn more about Dr. Tommie Smith on his website: www.TommieSmith.com >
About the Beacon of Excellence Award
The Beacon of Excellence honors professional athletes who have gone on to demonstrate exemplary success beyond their sport and can stand tall as positive role models for our KLF Kids. The Beacon of Excellence Award is presented during annual Gala Dinner & Caribbean Fête.
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