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John Carlos (on right), Tommie Smith (centre) and Peter Norman, who wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge in support of their gesture. When Norman died in 2006, Carlos and Smith were pallbearers at his funeral. Photograph: AP
The man who raised a black power salute at the 1968 Olympic Games
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.
Growing up black: Dennis Morris's portrait of the 70s
'The way we see things is affected by what we know and what we believe," wrote John Berger in Ways of Seeing. "The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled."
Trayvon Martin: a killing too far
The second world war had a civilising influence on Buford Posey, a white man raised in the Deep South during the Depression. "When I was coming up in Mississippi I never knew it was against the law to kill a black man," he says. "I learned that when I went in the army. I was 17 years old. When they told me I thought they were joking."


Mitt Romney arrives with his wife Ann at his Illinois primary night rally in Schaumburg, Illinois. Photograph: Jim Young/Reuters
Illinois Republican primary result: Mitt Romney's tipping point
Finally, after several months and untold millions of ad-spend dollars, the Republican party's "inevitable" nominee, Mitt Romney, acquired an aura of inevitability. Romney's emphatic victory in Illinois cannot be parsed. Exit polls point to a double-digit victory in a big state where he does not have a house, did not grow up and where all the candidates were participating. In this race, that qualifies as a big deal.


Rick Santorum speaks to supporters at his Alabama and Mississippi primary election night rally in Lafayette, Louisiana. Photograph: Mike Stone/Reuters
Rick Santorum's southern supremacy spells trouble for Mitt Romney
Finally, the Republican primary season has a nominee. Not for the presidency – the results from the Deep South on Tuesday night mean that contest will drag on and may, indeed, now intensify – but for conservative standard-bearer.
Romney and Santorum: Two Faces of GOP Capitalism


Brave New World? … Barack Obama signs his first act as president in the US Capitol building on 20 January 2009. Photograph: Molly Riley/AP/PA Photos
Studs Terkel's study of race in the US: 20 years on
Cultures do not come by their obsessions lightly. They tend them over generations, feeding them with myths, truths, pain, resentment, collective generalisations and individual exceptions. They pick at them like scabs until they bleed, and then mistake the consequent infection for the original wound. And then, like a hardy virus, the obsessions survive all attempts at inoculation by mutating into new and more stubborn strains.


Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney shakes hands with suporters in Youngstown, Ohio. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
Obama is still in a hole. It may yet be deeper than his Republican rivals'
Last Wednesday the Federal Reserve announced the first quarterly rise in consumer borrowing since 2008, bringing it close to pre-recession levels. The next day Mitt Romney, the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, was on the stump in Pascagoula (population: 23,677). "If the federal government were run more like the government here in Mississippi," he told the inhabitants of America's poorest state where infant mortality is on a par with Botswana, "the whole country would be a lot better off".


George Bush waves as he arrives for the inauguration ceremony of Barack Obama in January 2009; the US has since recovered its international prestige squandered during the Bush presidency. Photograph: Jim Young/Reuters
For Obama to apologise for US mistakes is not un-American
It's funny how, among Republicans, George W Bush doesn't come up. It's been less than four years. Yet, neither in debates, nor on the stump, nor even in the crowd, does the name of the man who held the job for eight years merit a mention.


Mitt Romney on Super Tuesday. Photograph: Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters
Mitt Romney still can't seal the deal on Super Tuesday
There are some things, even in American electoral politics, that money can't buy. It can get an organisation, ads and attention. But it cannot make you engaging, compelling or authentic. In short, it can't buy you love. And as Mitt Romney keeps showing, week after week, if the voters don't really like you, then you just have to spend as much money as you can making sure they don't like anybody else either.


Affirmative action challenger Jennifer Gratz (right), with Barbara Grutter and (left) University of Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman, outside the US supreme court in Washington, DC, in 2003. Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP
Affirmative action and the real enemy of education equality
In 1997, Patrick Hamacher applied to study undergraduate medicine at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and was rejected. Hamacher, one of whose parents had studied at the university, believed he had been denied a place because he was white. At the time, the university used a points system when selecting applicants, and those from under-represented minorities automatically received extra points. Hamacher later said he agreed with the aim of diversity, but that the university's methods amount to "artificially engineering and discriminating against others – and that is just not right."
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No Place Like Home – A Black Briton’s Journey through the American South
book review
'The idea of retracing the route is a great one, urgent and necessary.'
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