By Jeff Steers – Exponent editor
True Black History Museum curator Fred Saffold III said most people do not know the real history behind the 1968 Olympic photo of Tommie Smith and John Carlos giving the black power salute during the national anthem.
That is why he is on a mission to tell stories of black history in Michigan and around the country.
Saffold was at Jackson College Feb. 16 with his traveling exhibit at Bert Walker Hall. The exhibit was brought to the college at the urging of Lee Hampton, director of multicultural affairs.
Safford purchased the autographed photo of Smith, Carlos and Australian runner Peter Norman from Smith – the winner of the 200-meter event at the 1968 Summer Olympics. What is not noticed, is the white patch each of the participants was wearing.
“There were all wearing patches for a human rights organization – the Olympic Project for Human Rights,” Saffold said. “Norman was the fastest man in Australia, but was never allowed to run again.”
Saffold said protests are still going on today.
“Our past is not too far away . . . look at what Colin Kaepernick started last summer,” Saffold said.
The Detroit-area resident says he purchases rare artifacts from estate sales and receives a lot of donations.
“Someone recently gave me a program from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Walk to Freedom speech at Cobo Arena on June 23, 1963,” Saffold said. “That is where ‘I have a dream’ statements were spoken.”
Saffold said his parents were from the segregated south and he hopes to carry on the message of equality.
“I would love to see these artifacts in as many schools as possible,” he said. “This is true history.”
His website trueblackhistory.com tells more about the traveling exhibition.