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BOYCOTT NOW—BOYCOTT LATER?
Pete Axthelm
February 26, 1968
In New York black demonstrators protested against a club track meet, while in Grenoble the International Olympic Committee, by readmitting South Africa, stimulated the proposed Olympic boycott
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February 26, 1968

Boycott Now—boycott Later?

In New York black demonstrators protested against a club track meet, while in Grenoble the International Olympic Committee, by readmitting South Africa, stimulated the proposed Olympic boycott

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"Did it feel strange to be in an all-white dash field?" he was asked.

"Oh," he said with a slight smile, "I still had to run hard to win."

As the meet dragged on, Edwards called his supporters together outside for a final speech. "You people who want to go inside," he began, "you can go ahead and get your heads busted. But as for me, I think we should go up to Harlem and be with our brothers. The boycott has succeeded, the New York AC is dead. Why stay around here. There are no black brothers here."

"It's reported that there are 10 blacks inside," said a man next to him. Edwards put his hand over the bullhorn and snapped, "You tell them that—if you want to see the place burn."

Nothing burned, and only a few minor skirmishes marred a relatively peaceful demonstration. Edwards has a charisma that could probably keep any black crowd under his control. But the damaged feelings caused by this boycott will remain, and continue to incite tempers as the possibility of a far larger boycott draws near. "It's an insult," said Lennox Miller, "to be threatened by people who aren't even athletes."

"It's an insult," said Charlie Mays, "to watch Negroes go inside while we stand up for our rights. White guys like Richmond Flowers are my friends and I respect their decisions. But I can't forgive Miller or Beamon or the others."

"I really respect the guys who stayed out of the meet," said Flowers. "I only wish there were some way to moderate all this." He paused for a moment, as four all-white relay teams raced by on the track, before a subdued, predominantly white crowd and large blocks of empty seats. "I must admit," he said, "that I can't offer any solution. I just wish somebody would."

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