Forty-four years after he and Tommie Smith shocked the world with their black-gloved salute on the awards podium at the Mexico City Olympics, John Carlos thought it was time to explain why, and The John Carlos Story was born.
"I wrote the book to give my kids and my grandkids an overview of what it was all about from my mind and heart in terms of what I perceived was happening, not what was being written," Carlos, 66, said Thursday, sitting at a table at a gate of Franklin Field signing copies with the inscription, "We live to make history."
Carlos won the bronze medal in the 200 in 1968, with Smith taking the gold. At the medals ceremony, Carlos and Smith, both wearing black socks and no shoes, thrust into the air a fist covered by a black glove during the playing of the U.S. national anthem. The International Olympic Committee ordered both athletes sent home.
"I think it was time that the truth be told relative to what the demonstration was all about and why it was necessary," Carlos said. "We're still in the struggle to try to have some sort of equality amongst all human beings on this earth, to let them know that this thing was not, as they called it, a black power movement. They kicked to the curb the fact that we were standing for human rights."
Carlos, a native of Harlem who attended San Jose State, is a teacher and coach in Palm Springs, Calif.
He first competed at the Penn Relays in high school, when he won the 100-yard dash. He won the 100 twice more, in 1966 and 1970, the latter performance - in 9.2 seconds - being the fastest posted on the East Coast.
Carlos was signed by the Eagles later that year but tore up his knee during a practice at Franklin Field and didn't play again. He called his short time with the team "one of the greatest experiences of my life" but admitted, "Every time I limp now, I think about Franklin Field, think about the Eagles, and think about the fellows."
It wasn't long after she arrived at Franklin Field for Thursday's opening race that Ryann Krais ran into members of the team from her old high school, Methacton in Montgomery County.
"When I ran into them, I said, 'Hey, guys, can you cheer for me?' " she said. "They said, 'Oh yes, we didn't know if you wanted us to.' And I'm like, 'Yes, I do.' "
The Kansas State senior finished third in her heat in the 400-meter hurdles, and fourth overall, in 58.97 seconds. But she said the main focus of her training is the heptathlon as she aims toward a berth in the U.S. Olympic trials and, ultimately, the 2012 London Olympics.
The Olympic A standard for the seven-event discipline is 6,150 points. Krais has a career-best of 6,030, set last year. Her top total to date this season is 5,694.
"I don't want to count myself out of making the Olympic team," she said. "Like my coach says, 'You can't control what other people do.' So I would say if I ended the year with the A standard, whether I get to go or not, I'll be very happy with that.
"I know I'm in this for the long term. I've decided that. So if it takes a few years to get where my hopes and dreams are, then so be it. But I'm not going to stop until I get there."
Krais is scheduled to run Friday in both the shuttle hurdles and sprint medley relays.
A second consecutive long- jump championship for TCU's Whitney Gipson highlighted Thursday's field competition that had both the Horned Frogs and Penn State sport two winners each.
Gipson, a senior who won the NCAA indoor title last month in her specialty, uncorked a winning leap of 21 feet even. She was joined on the victory podium by junior Kelsey Samuels, who took the shotput with a throw of 52 feet, 71/4 inches.
A pair of underclassmen posted two wins for Penn State - freshman Lauren Kenney in the javelin with a heave of 160-8, and sophomore Melissa Kurzdorfer in the hammer with a throw of 205-1.