Principal, Benenson Capital Management
DONOR SINCE 2011 AND NORTH STAR AWARD HONOREE
Tommie Smith and John Carlos, 1968 Olympics
My vision for the future:
That all people will express themselves with no fear of discrimination based on race, gender, or sexual orientation. And to get there, I envision that children will be educated to value peace rather than violence, to respect others, to be generous, and to be willing—when the moment calls for it—to stand up for what’s right. Just like Smith and Carlos did.
Tommie Smith and John Carlos won the Gold and Bronze medals in the 200 meter sprint at the 1968 Olympics. On the medal stand they raised their arms as a human rights salute. They were expelled from the games and the closing ceremonies. They became personae non gratae with the Olympic Committee and were virtually ostracized by the U.S. media.
I consider what Carlos and Smith did to be one of the greatest acts of civil disobedience. They followed their heart to protest the mistreatment of people of color in the United States and around the world.
In some ways, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is one of the great ironies of American history. The 15th Amendment to the Consti- tution, ratified in 1870, provided Black people the right to vote. But it took the Civil Rights Movement, almost 100 years later, to make that amendment a living reality. Our nation needs people standing up for themselves.
I give to North Star Fund because the foundation expertly gives people the resources to stand up for themselves, with purpose, strength, and heart. That’s how we’re going to make sure that rights are protected and that we preserve—and expand—the entitlements that have been part of this country’s social contract for decades. I’m talking about free speech, education, housing, healthcare, and Social Security.