Overwhelmed by the hype over the death of Australian extreme Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin and largely overlooked by the U.S. press was the recent death of Peter Norman, the silver medal winner at the 1968 Olympic Games. '68 was a hellified year - Martin Luther King was assassinated, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated, the Chicago Democratic Convention had its ruckus, Apollo 8 carried the first humans around the moon and mixed in among all that was the famous protest during the '68 Games by Tommie Smith and John Carlos. If you look closely at this glossy, you'll see Peter Norman there as well - standing quietly while Smith and Carlos 'shock the world' with their silent protest of African American treatment north of the border in the United States. For the longest I just thought Norman was a silent bystander to this moment in history until my boy DLT pointed out how wrong I was...
As it turns out Peter Norman was doing more than just standing on a podium with two protesting brothers (unlike Mike Myers when Kanye West got salty with GW about the Katrina inaction. Though this clip shows what a good sport Myers was about it...) Publically, Norman himself was quietly participating in the protest by wearing a human rights badge along with Carlos and Smith. Privately, it was Norman's idea that the two split Tommie Smith's black gloves, which became the icing on the Black Power salutes the two threw up on the podium (Ty's note: I have to admit the glossy makes it seem like Tommie Smith, the gold medal winner in the middle, was more into it than his boy Carlos - but that's just me...).
Norman's seemingly innocuous act had his Australian homeys up in arms and he spent tall years on the business end of some racially charged ruckus Down Under. He's lucky his a$$ didn't end up on the barbie, but he did the right thing and was willing to suffer the consequences for it. Seems to me that it should have been Norman, rather than Steve Irwin who was offered a state funeral because in my mind what he did and what he stood for then and throughout his life was much, much bigger (that's my opinion Steve Irwin fans, I'm not hatin').
It turns out that Norman, Smith and Carlos remained good friends up until his untimely death and both Smith and Carlos flew to Australian to serve as pall bearers at his funeral. See, this is the type of friendship I'm talking about y'all. If you're boyz, you're boyz - doesn't matter what side you come from. Loyalty and character (which is sometimes defined as 'doing the right thing even when people aren't looking') still matter and if a northside homey can have the cajones to stand up in '68, then the least ol Ty can do is say 'Thank You, Homey. Good lookin' out.'
Rest in peace, my man. Rest in peace.