On This Day In History
The Black Power Salute of 1968
Tommie Smith and John Carlos
It was a move that drew international attention and controversy when Tommie Smith and John Carlos lifted their fists to give the Black Power salute during the national anthem at the medal ceremony in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City on Oct. 16, 1968.
The move sparked instant controversy. The International Olympic Committee president deemed the act to be a domestic political statement that was inappropriate for the apolitical Olympic Games. As a result, the two were ordered suspended from the American team and banned from the Olympic Village. The two athletes were expelled from the Games.
The Black Power salute photo, one of the most influential protest images of all time, was captured 50 years ago when U.S. sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos stepped onto the world stage during the Summer Olympics in Mexico City.
It was Oct. 16, 1968. Smith had just won gold and Carlos had taken bronze in a blazing 200-meter dash. Australian sprinter Peter Norman, who had won silver, stood to their right.
When "The Star-Spangled Banner” began to play, Smith lowered his head and raised his right fist.
Carlos raised his left. Life magazine photographer John Dominis raised his lens and clicked.
Dominis’s photograph would freeze that moment of silent protest. The picture would slingshot around the world, capturing all the angst and anger of 1968. The photo would become an iconic image of the Black Power movement and an emotional reference point among NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality.
Dominis, who died in 2013, said later he had no idea in that stadium in 1968 that his shot would make history.
Sources: BET and Associated Press, DeNeen L. Brown
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