The Local Take: Black History Month With Mel Pender - Olympian, Veteran and Native Georgian

Feb 29, 2020

Mel Pender, native Atlantan, Olympian and Veteran with Kiplyn Primus in the WCLK Studios - February 2020

Saturday morning at 8am on WCLK's The Local Take, I spoke with Mel Pender to wrap up our coverage of Black History Month. I asked him to describe what it was like growing up in Atlanta in the 1930s and 1940s in the South under oppressive conditions. He speaks about a police encounter and a conversation with is mother and grandfather. 

He talks about playing football in high school, the games, and his teammates. After graduating, Pender enlisted at the very young age of 17.  He excelled in the military and again played football.  While stationed overseas his speed was noticed and he was encouraged to try-out for the 1964 Olympics and he made the team. He wasn't as healthy as he hoped. The next time in the 1968 Olympics he won the gold medal in the 4x100 meter relay. I ask about the 1968 Olympics and the protest by John Carlos and Tommie Smith.  He shares that John Carlos was his roommate. 

Pender speaks about his grandfather's inspiration in his life, and also the honors he himself has received over his lifetime.  He speaks about opening his first sporting goods store and other entrepreneurial endeavors. He worked with the NFL directing their outreach to children. His life has not only been long but also wide.  

For more information on Mel Pender