John ‘Black Power Salute’ Carlos speaks in London 21st May 2012

John Carlos, who marked his medal at the 1968 games with a raised fist ‘black power’ salute, will speak about inequality, resistance and struggle in London on Monday 21st  May 2012 at a meeting organised by members of the RMT trade union on the London Underground and sponsored by the Fire Brigades Union. The famous gesture by John Carlos and fellow medal winner Tommie Smith epitomised resistance to racism.
The world is under the spell of the Olympics 2012. In these times of global gathering around an sports event, resistance is the best Olympic spirit according to Olympic athlete Carlos. Resistance against inequality and being pro human rights.

At the Olympic Games in Mexico City John Carlos created one of the most powerful images of all times. When the American anthem started, he and Tommie Smith bowed their heads and raised their fists to represent the Black Power movement of that time. Their way of dressing and posing represented symbols for working people, black poverty, peace, and lynch mob victims. In defies of the important Olympic rule: no politics. This controversial gesture created huge debates about politics. Carlos’ athletic career was over, but his human rights spirit did not die. He represents personal sacrifice for humanity and equality and this is your chance to hear him speak in real life.

John Carlos will be joined by activist and campaigner  Doreen Lawrence, whose son Stephen was murdered by racists and whose long battle for justice brought the conviction of two of his killers earlier this year. Also on the platform will be Janet Alder, whose brother Christopher died in police custody, and Unite Against Fascism joint secretary Weyman Bennett.
Other speakers include Samantha Rigg-David from the Sean Rigg Campaign for Justice and Change and United Friends and Families Campaign, Sharhabeel Lone of the We are Babar Ahmad Campaign, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack and Mac McKenna, an RMT activist on London Underground.

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Does poverty cause violence and the collapse of the family?

There is a mass of data that demonstrates the link between violence, defragmented famillies and unemployment in the poorest areas. But are these symptoms of the impoverished a result of their living situation, or are they a cause of it?

You could easily be forgiven for thinking that this poverty is the result of the above problems, and many more. But a study by Richard Wilkinson in The Impact of Inequality actually contradicts this idea. unequal societies are broken societies, all of whose members suffer. Violence is more common in societies where income differences are larger, not just in things like murder rates, but in low-level arguments, racial hostility, and antisocial behaviour. Communities are more fragile in less equal societies. And political participation is lower, and political institutions less effective, in less equal societies. Wilkinson shows how it is the stress, competition and exclusion generated by living in a highly unequal society that underlies these outcomes.

What do you think? Richard Tawney, the famous historian, once said ‘we need the equal start as well as the open road’ if equality of opportunity is to mean anything. With the problems of poverty in today’s society, does he have a valid point? Should we seek to redress natural inequalities that exist within society, in order to mend the problems we face? Is violence, defragmented communities and poor political participation going to continue in these areas until we find a solution to natural inequality?

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