Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Doar And Carlos

They are two of the most important symbols of the Civil Rights Era, one a white man whose athletic career ended 30 years earlier and the other a black man in his athletic prime.

The white man was so anonymous (the way he wanted it, by the way) that TigerBlog went through four years as an American History major at an Ivy League school and never once heard his name.
The black man is hugely famous for what he did, though TB wonders how many know his name as well.

The two men are now five decades removed their time at the center of what was nothing short of a revolution, and they are both prominently featured in what are arguably the two most enduring photographs of the entire movement.

They are also the most recent speaker and the next speaker in the Jake McCandless ’51 Princeton Varsity Club series.

 John Doar told spellbinding tale after spellbinding tale of his time as one of the lead attorneys of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, including the role he played in the desegregation of the University of Mississippi.

 Expect something just as riveting tomorrow night at 7:30, when John Carlos speaks in Dodds Auditorium at Robertson Hall (for free, no less).

John Carlos. The name ring a bell?

John Carlos was one of the two American Olympians in 1968 - Tommie Smith is the other -  who stood on the medal platform with no shoes, black socks, black gloves and raised fist to call attention to the struggles of blacks in this country.

Today, such a gesture seems somewhat routine.

Back then, it wasn't.

It took great courage, real genuine courage, for Carlos and Smith to do what they did, and for Australian silver medalist Peter Norman to wear a button for the Olympic Project for Human Rights.

The backlash was quick, and there were ramifications. Coming athletics and political statements at the time wasn't very popular.

Of course, that's what makes what they did so much more significant.

Tomorrow, Carlos brings his story with him to the Princeton campus. As was the case with John Doar, John Carlos will give the first-person account of a huge moment in American history, which is infinitely more exciting than reading about it in a book - or even on Wikipedia.

It's one thing to be the President or a Senator or someone who went out of his/her way to get into the political arena and to lead the political debate.

It's another to simply find yourself there and then have to decide if you have the personal courage to make a difference. Very few actually do.

The last two PVC Speaker Series guests did.

John Doar, now past his 90th birthday, was recently named a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The release from the White House says this about him:
Doar was a legendary public servant and leader of federal efforts to protect and enforce civil rights during the 1960s.  He served as Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.  In that capacity, he was instrumental during many major civil rights crises, including singlehandedly preventing a riot in Jackson, Mississippi, following the funeral of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evars in 1963.  Doar brought notable civil rights cases, including obtaining convictions for the 1964 killings of three civil rights workers in Neshoba County, Mississippi, and leading the effort to enforce the right to vote and implement the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  He later served as Special Counsel to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary as it investigated the Watergate scandal and considered articles of impeachment against President Nixon.  Doar continues to practice law at Doar Rieck Kaley & Mack in New York.

 John Carlos is following John Doar in the speaker series. Don't be shocked if one day he follows him with the same award.

Either way, it's not a talk to be missed tomorrow night.

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