A year ago, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat down during the national anthem. His protest caused a firestorm around sports and became the topic of discussion. Kaepernick stated that he sat as a form of protest against racism and police brutality against “black and brown people” in the United States. He later kneeled as a request from former NFL player-turned-Green Beret Nate Boyer.
On October 16, 1968, during the Olympic games in Mexico City, Tommie Smith and John Carlos did not simply take a knee. Back then, they raised their fist. They bowed their head while raising their fist as the national anthem was played. Just like the protests around the NFL today, Smith and Carlos were protesting against injustice in America. Also, like Kaepernick, they were punished for their action. Kaepernick is currently unemployed. Smith and Carlos were suspended from the U.S. team and banned from the Olympic Village. International Olympic Committee president Avery Brundage deemed the actions of Smith and Carlos as unfit for the Olympic games. Their punishments were handed down. The United States tried to fight the decision, but the Olympic Committee told them that the team as a whole would face punishment. Smith and Carlos accepting their punishment. Peter Norman, the athlete who is in the photo, was an athlete from Australia. He won the silver medal. He knew what was going to happen beforehand. He stood in support of Smith and Carlos. He even wore a badge on his outfit to show his support for Smith, Carlos and the issue of injustice.
The raised fist was popular during the era of the Black Power Movement in the United States. It is still used today. As a matter of fact, NFL player Malcolm Jenkins raises his fist in the air as he stands for the anthem.
The 1968 Black Power Salute is considered as “one of the most overtly political movements in the history of the modern Olympic Games”.
A salute to Smith and Carlos for their action.