Ath­lete’s fam­ily join push for civil rights mon­u­ment

The Riverine Herald - - LOCAL CLASSIES - By Jess Gled­hill

ECHUCA-MOAMA’S link to a 1968 Olympics’ civil rights cam­paign will soon be com­mem­o­rated on a yearly ba­sis thanks to the Peter Nor­man Com­mem­o­ra­tion Com­mit­tee.

The new com­mit­tee will be launched at noon to­day in Swanston St, Mel­bourne, to cam­paign for the es­tab­lish­ment of a sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­ac­tive mon­u­ment in the soon to be re­de­vel­oped Mel­bourne City Square in recognition of Olympian Peter Nor­man.

Nor­man was a 200m sil­ver medal- list in the 1968 Olympics and made his­tory when he sup­ported two African-Amer­i­can ath­letes cam­paign­ing for civil rights dur­ing the medal cer­e­mony.

His Echuca-based fam­ily Janita, Gary and Sandy (Kadri) — chil­dren from his first mar­riage to wife Ruth — were named as pa­trons on the com­mit­tee along with his mother Thelma and daugh­ters Emma and Belinda, chil­dren from his sec­ond mar­riage to wife Jan.

Nor­man died of a heart at­tack in 2006 at age 64 and the an­niver­sary of his fu­neral on Oc­to­ber 9 will mark the date for yearly com­mem­o­ra­tions to be held in his hon­our.

Janita said her fa­ther would have been sup­port­ive of pro­mot­ing the cause and the stand he took.

‘‘It would have never been some­thing he asked for him­self,’’ she said.

‘‘He was never one for sel­f­recog­ni­tion, but our fam­ily all agreed this is some­thing he would’ve wanted. He was proud of the stand he took.

‘‘We’ve (the pa­trons and fam­ily) given out sup­port to the com­mit­tee to go down this path and feel it’s a worth while rea­son to com­mem­o­rate.’’

Oc­to­ber 9 has al­ready been de­clared Peter Nor­man Day by the US Track and Field Fed­er­a­tion.

Janita and her sis­ter Sandy will be at the launch to­day and hoped the event will help gain some trac­tion and sup­port from Mel­bourne City Coun­cil for the mon­u­ment.

‘‘Even 50 years on the mes­sage has such an im­por­tance and is still rel­e­vant now,’’ Janita said.

‘‘On some lev­els his ac­tions are more well known in Amer­ica than here.

‘‘If more Aus­tralians can be aware of that mo­ment in his­tory be­cause of it, then that’s a re­ally good out­come.’’

The com­mit­tee aimed to high­light Mel­bourne as one of the world’s most suc­cess­ful mul­ti­cul­tural cities and ac­knowl­edge the brave, dig­ni­fied and moral stand Nor­man took in the strug­gle for univer­sal hu­man rights.

His ac­tions saw him rep­ri­manded by the Aus­tralian Olympic Com­mit­tee by way of his ex­clu­sion from the Mu­nich 1972 Olympics and ex­clu­sion from cel­e­bra­tions sur­round­ing the Syd­ney 2000 Olympics.

The mon­u­ment would go a long way in rec­ti­fy­ing this treat­ment and see­ing Nor­man recog­nised and cel­e­brated as the hero he was.

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