Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Carl Lewis - A revelation of African American sporting success in the 80s

Carl Lewis was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1961, at time when the black civil rights movement was just starting to flourish and equal rights was emerging, two years before Martin Luther King made his 'I have a dream' speech. It interesting that Carl Lewis' father William Lewis decided to move his family from Alabama up north to the coastal state of New Jersey after allegedly being hosed down by police during a civil rights march. This act from his father itself acts as a forecoming of Lewis' American success, to achieve and become a champion from relatively small beginnings.
Carl Lewis grasped his opportunity in high school where he quickly became a talented long jumper, he was soon the best in New Jersey, and eventually in the world. From then on he reigned supreme as a symbol of 80s athletic success as he dominated various events, in long jumping and sprinting in several championships and Olympics; altogether achieving 9 gold medals in four separate Olympic games from Los Angeles in 84 to Atalanta 96; his aura of greatness influencing the likes of Michael Jordan who came to be the world's best basketball player in the 90s.
It is also interesting that Carl Lewis' own idol was Jesse Owens, an African American sprinter of the 30s, who won four golds in the Berlin Olympic games and an embodiment of opposition to the nazi regime's belief in 'Aryan racial superiority'. Carl Lewis emulated Jesse Owen's success by achieving 4 Golds in the Los Angeles Olympics of 84.

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