Black Fists, Black Pride, and the 1968 Summer Olympics

Black fists. Black men. Black pride. That’s how we will always remember bronze medalist John Carlos and gold medalist Tommie Smith–two Olympic sprinters representing the United States at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. The two Black men had something to say about America. On October 16, 1968, they stood atop the medal podium as the Star-Spangled Banner played and quietly bowed their heads, averted their eyes away from the US flag, and each proudly put a black-gloved fist in the air. In a press conference immediately after their protest, Carlos stated, “We want to make it clear that white people seem to think Black people are animals doing a job.” He continued, “We want you to tell Americans and all the world that if they do not care what black people do, they should not go to see black people perform.”

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