SJSU honors Tommie Smith and John Carlos' legacy with track and field project

This comes 54 years after Tommie Smith and John Carlos made the salute to human rights at the Mexico City Olympics

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Sunday, October 16, 2022
SJSU honors civil rights icons Tommie Smith and John Carlos
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San Jose State University is closer to building their new Track and Field Facility and Speed City legacy center honoring the civil rights icons.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- San Jose State University is one-step closer to building their new Track and Field Facility and Speed City legacy center honoring civil rights icons Tommie Smith and John Carlos.

On Thursday, SJSU celebrated $9 million secured by Assemblymember Ash Kalra to fund the new project that aims to build a better community in San Jose.

A fitting day of celebration considering it comes 54 years after Tommie Smith and John Carlos made the salute to human rights at the Mexico City Olympics felt around the world.

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SJSU continues to honor the impact these men made on society with Legacy Month at the university.

"These things are worth focusing on," Civil Rights Activist and SJSU Alumni Dr. Harry Edwards said. "Not just because of the past, not just because of what was accomplished decades ago, but because of the applicability today."

The school announced they are taking the next steps in celebrating that impact.

Nine acres at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds will soon be transformed into a state of the art track and field facility for SJSU.

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It will also be open to the public, a space for the surrounding community to enjoy in one of the lowest income parts of the city.

"To serve as a place for our residents, our children to access open space, to play in the grass, to run on the track and to have a safe space where the kids can just be kids," SJ City Councilmember Maya Esparza said.

The other part of the project directly builds upon what Tommie Smith and John Carlos stood for.

A Speed City Legacy Center will be built to spread the message of race and social justice in hopes to inspire the next generation of civil rights heroes.

"An opportunity for us to engage, teach, learn and continue the legacy," SJSU Director of Track and Field Charles Ryan said.

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"We will be talking about this hopefully 54 years from now because of what it does in terms of bringing San Jose State University and the community where people can look and say, 'this is what San Jose State's about. This is who we are'," Dr. Edwards said.

At the feet of history, this was the next steps towards positive change.

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