Victory Salute

Snowbird of Paradise

In 2005, San Jose State University honored former students Tommie Smith and John Carlos with a 22-foot high statue titled Victory Salute, created by artist Rigo 23. It shows Smith and Carlos making a salute to human rights while the national anthem was playing during their medal ceremony at the 1968 Olympics. A student, Erik Grotz, initiated the project to recognize their courage in advancing civil rights. The statue is on the grounds of the university.

Statue of Tommie Smith and John Carlos making the raised fist salute at the 1968 Olympics.

The second place on the podium is left open at the request of Australian Peter Norman who won that medal. He wanted visitors to stand in his place and feel what he felt.

This overtly political statement was made at the Olympics in Mexico City in 1968.

Plaque explaining the significance of Victory Salute by artist…

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  1. I am ashamed to say that, despite being a SJSU student in the very early 1980’s, I have never seen this statue in person. Do you recall where it is on campus? Near the athletics area? Did Australian Peter Norman ever put how he felt into words? How could anyone know how he felt? As I recall, in1968 that salute was not wholeheartedly accepted. Really appropriate now. Pandemic aside for a moment, my heart aches for the people of my country today.

    • This statue is to the east of MLK Library and, as far as I recall, in the green space west of the Student Union building.

      Peter Norman did say how he felt at the time and shortly after. He was very supportive of their silent protest. And, yes, it was very controversial at the time.

      Sadly, how little has changed.

      • Thank you my Friend. When situations calm down a bit here, I am going to locate that statue. I must thank you for creating this post. Our nerves are quite frayed. This strong and silent protest reminds me of how things could be. Racism reigns and 45 holds up a Bible for a photo op. He seems to be attempting to turn America into a military state and I have no clue how he can be stopped. Truthfully I don’t think he even knows what he is saying/doing. Words just stumble from his filthy mouth.

        • When I watch the news and look at the demonstrations I see thousands of people peacefully protesting against racism, a few people rioting and vandalising property, and a militarized police force. No matter which way you look at it, that is a toxic mix.

          • You obviously get it. Kind of living in the midst of it just boggles my mind. Had a medical appointment yesterday and the office phoned me to say that the management company of the building (a large facility on Bascom and 85) had alerted all offices that the building would be closed yesterday and to cancel appointments. I must phone to reschedule and will do so this morning. It was somehow related to the protests but I need to inquire further when I am next there.

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