discrimination and hate, equality, iconic images of human rights violations, poverty

Iconic Images of Human Rights Violations (43): Black Power Salute at the Olympics

Tommie Smith (center) and John Carlos (right) showing the raised fist on the podium after the 200m in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico, while Silver medallist Peter Norman from Australia (left) wears an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge to show his support for the two U.S. athletes

Tommie Smith (center) and John Carlos (right) showing the raised fist on the podium after the 200m in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico, while Silver medallist Peter Norman from Australia (left) wears an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge to show his support for the two U.S. athletes

(source)

Another version:

black power salute at the Olympics

(source)

The two U.S. athletes received their medals shoeless, but wearing black socks, to represent black poverty. Carlos wore a necklace of beads which he described “were for those individuals that were lynched, or killed and that no-one said a prayer for, that were hung and tarred. It was for those thrown off the side of the boats in the middle passage.” As they left the podium they were booed by the crowd. Time magazine wrote

“Faster, Higher, Stronger” is the motto of the Olympic Games. “Angrier, nastier, uglier” better describes the scene in Mexico City last week. (source)

Carlos and Smith were stripped of their medals, ejected from the Olympic Village, and returned to an unfriendly welcome in the U.S.

More on racial discrimination, racism, lynching. Some statistics here. See the whole series on iconic images of human rights violations.

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One thought on “Iconic Images of Human Rights Violations (43): Black Power Salute at the Olympics

  1. I understand the purpose of their actions, and I completely sympathize with them. Their cause is very worthy. At the same time, however, the Olympics is not a place for politics. The international sporting event is supposed to be strictly apolitical. The Olympics would be very different indeed if we simply let politics come to dominate the event, and I don’t think most people would like that. I think the response was overcritical, but at the same time I do believe there are better venues for political speech.

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