LOS ANGELES — The inaugural Athletes for Impact Awards presented by the LA84 Foundation and Wasserman Foundation, commemorated the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Olympic Games by naming three-time Olympic champion Wyomia Tyus as the winner of the first ever Dr. John Carlos Legacy Award.
Tyus won gold in the women’s 100-meter at the 1964 Games in Tokyo and added a silver in the 4×100 meter relay. She then followed that up by winning gold in both events at the 1968 Games.
Carlos, who won bronze in Mexico, is remembered for his iconic silent protest on the podium, when he and USA teammate Tommie Smith each wore a black glove and raised their fists during the playing of the “Star Spangled Banner.”
“People look at the fist and remember it, we came together through many threats and intimidation,” Carlos recalled during the ceremony held at the LA84 Foundation. “I’m about telling kids that you don’t have to wait until you’re 50, 60 or 70 years old to get up and make a difference.”
Michael de la Rocha, co-founder and CEO of Revolve Impact, believes those who go above and beyond deserve to be recognized.
“Athletes for Impact, it’s a global network of athletes from all sports that all have committed their lives to using their platform and their influence, to move social change forward,” he said.
The organization also honored; Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Michael Bennett, former boxing champion Laila Ali, U.S. Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad, WNBA player Maya Moore and retired NBA player Etan Thomas for their work in the community.
Bennett, who was a part of the 2014 Super Bowl winning Seattle Seahawks, is an advocate for racial equality.
“All these great athletes who really put everything on the line, regardless of the consequences,” Bennett said. “I think we all have a choice every single day, whether we are going to stand up, sit down, or take a knee. We have to fight for the people around us. I think our communities are what makes us strong.”
Bennett wants to make sure the younger generation understands the importance of speaking-out against injustices.
“We are going to continuously push young kids to stand up for what they believe in,” Bennett said. Athletes for Impact is a program that is built for that. The program is to let youth athletes have a voice and show us how to be young men and young women in America, and what we can do within sports.
Muhammad became the first Muslim-American Olympic medalist when she was a part of the bronze medal winning Sabre Fencing team in Rio, paid homage to the past when she accepted her award.
“Every opportunity I have been given is a gift because of the people that have paved the way for athletes like myself to be included in spaces and given the opportunity,” Muhammad said.
LA84 Foundation President and CEO Renata Simril spoke at the event, honoring Carlos for his brave demonstration in Mexico.
“There are moments like today — on the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Games — that iconic moment when two athletes stood up for justice,” Simril said. “Not just justice for their own people, but justice for people across the world.”
Athletes for Impact also acknowledged community partner organizations; A New Way of Life, Black Leaders Organizing for Communities, LIFE Camp, Inc. and Fair and Just Prosecution for their activism.