Olympian Dr. Tommie Smith to Speak in Riverside
Dr. Tommie Smith, whose raised fist became a symbol for racial justice during the 1968 Olympic games, will be the keynote speaker at the opening of the Civil Rights Institute of Inland Southern California (CRIISC) on Saturday, October 22.
The free public celebration begins at 5:30 p.m. (doors open at 5 p.m.) at the Institute’s new headquarters at 3933 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside. Festivities will include food trucks, outdoor live entertainment, the “Still I Rise: The Black IE Fight for Justice” exhibition, and dedication of the Jose Medina Atrium.
Smith set a world record and earned a gold medal in the 200-meter sprint at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. On the awards podium, Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos silently raised their gloved fists during the national anthem to protest racism, in what became one of the most polarizing and iconic sports images of the 20th century. Smith, the son of a sharecropper, endured death threats and painful repercussions years afterward.
In partnership with Cellar Door Books, Smith, now 78, will spend part of the opening evening signing copies of his new graphic novel based on his life: “Victory! Stand. Raising my Fist for Justice.” His co-author, Derrick Barnes, will speak briefly and introduce Smith. Barnes is the author of “The King of Kindergarten” and the critically acclaimed, multi-award-winning picture book, “Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut.”
CRIISC is committed to preserving and showcasing the history of Inland activists, and empowering new generations to continue the hard-fought gains of past generations. It is the centerpiece of the new, five-story Mission Heritage Plaza, which includes 72 units of affordable workforce housing and a new home for the Fair Housing Council of Riverside County.
The Institute will offer cultural and social history exhibitions, an oral history recording studio and digital archives, and space for educational programs and performances in partnership with local school districts and organizations. A Walk of Fame will honor some of the region’s civil rights advocates.
“We are ensuring the structures are in place to empower new generations of advocates, allies and champions for racial equity, social justice and inclusion,” said Ronald Loveridge, President of the CRIISC Board of Directors. “The Civil Rights Institute is here to build a better future for everybody.”
To register for the event, visit www.inlandcivilrights.org