You're probably not familiar with the name John Carlos. But you almost certainly know his image. It's 1968 at the Mexico City Olympics and the medals are being hung round the necks of Tommie Smith (USA, gold), Peter Norman (Australia, silver) and Carlos (USA, bronze). As the Star-Spangled Banner begins to play, Smith and Carlos, two black Americans wearing black gloves, raise their fists in the black power salute. It is a symbol of resistance and defiance, seared into 20th-century history, that Carlos feels he was put on Earth to perform.
"In life, there's the beginning and the end," he says. "The beginning don't matter. The end don't matter. All that matters is what you do in between – whether you're prepared to do what it takes to make change. There has to be physical and material sacrifice. When all the dust settles and we're getting ready to play down for the ninth inning, the greatest reward is to know that you did your job when you were here on the planet."
guardian.co.uk, Friday 30 March 2012 22.59 BS