45 years ago today: The famous Olympic Games black power salute
Tommie Smith and John Carlos made history at the Olympics in 1968.
As the pair accepted the gold and bronze medals in the 200m, they silently raised a gloved hand as the American National Anthem played during the ceremony.
Dressed in black socks and no shoes with Smith adorned in a black scarf, this was more than a victory for a game. It was a silent symbol, a protest in opposition of continued discrimination against black people in the country.
While they were booed by many in the crowd, Smith and Carlos knew who would understand.
At a press conference after the event Tommie Smith, who holds seven world records, said: “If I win I am an American, not a black American. But if I did something bad then they would say ‘a Negro’. We are black and we are proud of being black. “Black America will understand what we did tonight.” Smith said he had raised his right fist to represent black power in America, while Carlos raised his left fist to represent black unity. Together they formed an arch of unity and power.
The International Olympic Committee condemned the actions, with a spokesperson calling it “a deliberate and violent breach of the fundamental principles of the Olympic spirit.”
But today we remember.