Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Watch the Obamas Receive Black Olympians at the White House

Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Simone Biles
President Barack Obama, with first lady Michelle Obama, hugs Olympic gold medal gymnast Simone Biles, after she presented him with a surf board signed by the U.S. 2016 Olympians during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016,

*NFL Player Colin Kaepernick has dominated the headlines on black news websites because of his refusal to stand during the national anthem in protest of police brutality. Despite intense criticism, Kaepernick has stood firm in his anthem protest, which is now spreading to other teams, sports, and high school football teams around the country.

However, in addition to favorable coverage on many black news websites, Colin Kaepernick has the backing of one very important American, President Barack Obama. The president, who rarely voices his opinion on the latest black celebrity gossip, has recently come out in support of the NFL player. According to Obama, Kaepernick has every right to peacefully protest however he wants.

Indeed, Colin Kaepernick is part of a long tradition of black athletes protesting injustice around the world. Obama recognized that legacy on September 29, when he invited the relatives of the 1936 African American Olympians to the White House. The 1936 Berlin Olympics were hosted by an ascendant Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime, which refused to even acknowledge the fact that African Americans were competing in the games. Unfortunately, those black Olympians received much the same treatment at home.

Despite winning 14 of the 56 medals in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, African American athletes were not nationally recognized when they returned home. black olympians

But at a September 29 ceremony at the White House, Barack and Michelle Obama welcomed the family members of those athletes during a celebration of the 2016 Team USA Olympic athletes and para-athletes. In his speech to the family members, Obama explained the historical significance of having black athletes in the middle of socialist Germany: “It was the other African American athletes in the middle of Nazi Germany under the gaze of Adolf Hitler that put a lie to the notions of racial superiority — whooped ’em, and taught them a thing or two about democracy and taught them a thing or two about the American character.”

Barack and Michelle Obama also invited Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the Olympians who famously formed a Black Panther salute during their medal ceremony at the 1968 Olympics. Barack Obama praised that duo as well, thanking them for paving the way for the current diverse Olympic team and black celebrity activists like Colin Kaepernick.

On behalf of the Olympic athletes, gold medal-winning gymnast Simone Biles presented the Obamas with a surf board signed by Team USA athletes. President Obama also took the time to praise many of the athletes by name.

Speaking of swimmer Katie Ledecky, Barack Obama said, “She obliterates her own records in the 400 and the 800 freestyle, lapped the field in the 800, when you were watching on TV — you all see it on TV? — like there was nobody else in the pool? Crazy. And then there are some firsts that show the world America’s greatness doesn’t come only from high scores or fast times, but from our diversity and our tolerance and our open hearts. This summer’s fencer, Ibtihaj Muhammad, became the first American female athlete to compete in the Olympic Games in the hijab, and that’s important, too, because one of the wonderful things we love when we see our Olympians is everbody’s from all kinds of different backgrounds, shapes, sizes.”


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