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Lee Evans

Lee Evans (1947–2021), Olympic gold medalist who protested racism

by Kirk Fox

Lee Evans won two sprinting gold medals at the 1968 Olympics and protested on the podium against racism.

1968 Olympic Games

Lee Evans was a star sprinter at San Jose State University who started the Olympic Project for Human Rights with teammates Tommie Smith and John Carlos. The trio almost boycotted the 1968 Olympic games in Mexico City but instead decided that competing and winning was the best message. Famously, Tommie Smith and John Carlos protested with raised fists after winning medals and were removed from the U.S. team. Evans set a world record in winning gold in the 400 meter race and another world record on the 4×400 relay team. On the podium, he protested racism by wearing a black beret and raising his fist. Later, he became a track coach in Nigeria and was elected to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.

Evans on winning a gold medal

“I feel I won this gold medal for the black people in the USA, and black people all over the world.” – Washington Post


Tributes to Lee Evans

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Full Obituary: Washington Post

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