Memoir touches history, and I touched the memoir

by Jerry Waxler

I went down to center city Philadelphia last night to Larry Robins book store, to hear a talk by Tommie Smith. Smith won gold in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, and then shocked the world by raising his fist during the awards ceremony. It seems innocent enough now, but in 1968 it was considered so insolent it created a national furor. Smith’s memoir recounts the story. I loved being able to touch history like this, in a small room in a bookstore in Philadelphia. How many millions of people watched him as he made his small attempt to raise consciousness, and now almost 40 years later, I can see him, talk to him, and wonder what such a life is like. I can do better than that. I can read his book, Tommie Smith, Silent Gesture.

There was one more bonus to my visit. I met his publishers at Temple University Press. To publish books, it’s good to know who is publishing what.


In 2009, Larry Robin’s Bookstore closed its doors. The oldest independent bookstore in Philadelphia, Larry Robin will now host cultural events, but the book store is closed.

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