The 1968 Olympics Black Power salute was an act of protest by the African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos during their medal ceremony at the 1968 Summer Olympics in the Olympic Stadium in Mexico City. As they turned to face their flags and hear the American national anthem (The Star-Spangled Banner), they each raised a black-gloved fist and kept them raised until the anthem had finished.
Tommie Smith and John Carlos Medal Ceremony 1968 Olympics
Smith, Carlos and Australian silver medalist Peter Norman all wore human rights badges on their jackets. In his autobiography, Silent Gesture, Tommie Smith stated that the gesture was not a “Black Power” salute, but a “human rights salute”. The event is one of the most overtly political statements in the history of the modern Olympic Games.
Sports Moment That Changed The World
In 2011 John Carlos authored a new memoir with sports writer Dave Zirin, The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World. Olympic medal winners in the 200 meter race, John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their fists in the Black Power salute during the national anthem at the Olympic prize ceremony as a protest against racism in the United States. Seen around the world, the Black Power salute on the Olympic medal stand sparked controversy and an eventual career fallout. “I wasn’t in there for the race, I was there to make a statement,” Carlos told Democracy Now! in an interview Oct. 12 with Dave Zirin. “I was ashamed of America for America’s deeds — what they were doing in history as well as what they were doing at that time.”