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Memorabilia Dealer Selling Tommie Smith's Famous Medal Talks

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Hulton Archive | Getty Images

Tommie Smith won the Olympic gold medal in the 200 meters 42 years ago this Saturday. He's now selling the medal along with the shoes he wore in the race.

The reason Smith is so remembered is because he and his fellow American John Carlos raised black gloves in the air on the medal podium to call out racial injustice in America. The men later said it was merely a gesture of support for the African American community, but others interpreted it as more of a protest.

We sat down with Gary Zimet of Moments In Time, the memorabilia house that is selling Smith's medal and shoes he wore during that race to talk about the items.

Darren: How did you get to sell this item?

Zimet: About a year ago, I came upon Tommie's Web site and the adventurous entrepreneur that I am decided to e-mail him. He didn't show interest initially, but persistence paid off and three weeks ago, I visited him in Atlanta and struck a deal.

Darren: You've auctioned off a lot of amazing stuff. I know right now you have the signature John Lennon gave to Mark Chapman on the day he shot him. Where does this rank?

Zimet: It's among the most important and certainly unique items that I've had. Most athletes with their medals, especially gold medals, especially from such an important and iconic race don't give them up, so it's really an honor to sell something of this magnitude.

"Something of this magnitude comes up so infrequently that there must be people out there who would love it." -Moments in Time, Gary Zimet

Darren: How'd you come up with the opening price?

Zimet: After doing research and talking to Tommie, we felt that $250,000 was a very fair opening price.

Darren: Even in this economy?

Zimet: Great material, no matter what the economy, always does well and this is so special, so unique that I'm sure there will be three or four people, if not more, who are very seriously interested.

Darren: Why is this so special?

Zimet: Something of this magnitude comes up so infrequently that there must be people out there who would love it. What Tommie did went beyond symbolic. He's a very altruistic guy, and in many ways, what he did ruined the rest of his life because of America's reaction to it. I admire him for being a man of principle.

Darren: A lot of people interpreted the black gloves raised in the air to protest segregation. What did Tommie tell you it was for?

Zimet: It was a salute for black power in the positive sense. In 1968, most African Americans were, in essence, living a third-world citizenship. It was meant to inspire other Black Americans and to show the world what a horrid state they lived in.

Darren: The natural question to ask is, why is he doing this? Does he need the money?

Zimet: He needs the money to a degree, but he's not selling it strictly for that reason. He feels that after 42 years, it should be shared with the American public and he really wants it to go to someone who would appreciate it and take very good care of it.

Darren: When does the auction start and when does it end?

Zimet: It's live on my Web site now and it ends on November 4th at 10 p.m. ET

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