Black History: October 16, 1968 - The Silent Protest

Today in history at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, African-American athlete Tommie Smith won the 200-metre dash in a record time of 19.83 seconds, thus winning the gold medal. White Australian athlete Peter Norman came second at 20.06 seconds and African-American athlete John Carlos came third at 20.10 seconds.

While receiving their medals at the podium:

  • Smith and Carlos removed their shoes, wearing black socks to symbolise black poverty
  • Smith represented his black pride by wearing a black scarf
  • Carlos wore beads as a reference to the slaves who were thrown over boats in the middle passage and for those who were lynched, killed, hung and tarred
  • Both athletes wore a single black glove (Peter Norman suggested that John Carlos should wear Tommie Smith’s left-hand glove)

Smith and Carlos bowed their head and raised their gloved fists as the American Star-Spangled Banner played, and the crowd booed the athletes as they left the podium. After the event, Smith stated:

"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.”


Posted on Sunday, October 16th at 12:16PM with 3,584 notes

tagged as: Tommie Smith, John Carlos, Peter Norman, 1968 Olympics, Black History,
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