• On October 18, 1968, the United States Olympic Committee suspended Tommie Smith and John Carlos, two days after they won gold and bronze medals in the 200-meter sprint at the Summer Games in Mexico City, Mexico. 
     
    At the medal ceremony, Smith, Carlos, and Australian silver medalist Peter Norman silently supported human rights and protested racism. The most visible aspects of this protest were Smith and Carlos lowering their gazes and raising their fists during the playing of the U.S. national anthem. The gesture was widely interpreted as a “black powersalute.
     
    In addition to the salute, the athletes displayed other support for human rights. All three wore badges supporting the Olympic Project for Human Rights, created to bring attention to issues such as the lack of black coaches at the Olympics. Smith and Carlos ascended the medal stand wearing black socks, not shoes, to acknowledge poverty among African Americans. Smith wore a beaded necklace to honor the legacy of enslaved Africans and African Americans in the New World. 
     
    In addition to being suspended, Smith and Carlos were also expelled from the Olympic Village and sent home. Today, the men are athletic coaches, motivational speakers, members of the Track & Field Hall of Fame, and recipients of awards for athleticism, courage, and conscience. Their gesture remains one of the most iconic moments in both the Olympics and the civil rights movement.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    acknowledge Verb

    to recognize the truth or existence of something.

    anthem Noun

    song of strong belief in faith or patriotism.

    ascend Verb

    to go up.

    athlete Noun

    person who participates or competes in sporting events.

    badge Noun

    medal, token, card, or other marker acknowledging membership or achievement.

    black power Noun

     

    political movement that supports the development of political and social institutions for African Americans, and emphasizes pride in African and African American culture.

    ceremony Noun

    activities to celebrate or commemorate an event.

    civil rights movement Noun

    (~1954-1968) process to establish equal rights for all people in the United States, focusing on the rights of African Americans.

    conscience Noun

    a person's ethical and moral principles.

    courage Noun

    bravery, or the ability to act according to your conscience in the face of criticism.

    display Verb

    to show or reveal.

    enslave Verb

    to totally control.

    expel Verb

    to eject or force out.

    gaze Noun

    steady look or line of sight.

    gesture Noun

    expressive movement or action.

    human rights Noun

    basic freedoms belonging to every individual, including the rights to social and political expression, spirituality, and opportunity.

    iconic Adjective

    event or symbol representing a belief, nation, or community.

    interpret Verb

    to explain or understand the meaning of something.

    legacy Noun

    material, ideas, or history passed down or communicated by a person or community from the past.

    motivation Noun

    process or desire to act in a certain way, or toward a specific goal.

    Olympic Village Noun

    residential facilities constructed by the host city for visiting athletes, trainers, and officials of the Olympics.

    poverty Noun

    status of having very little money or material goods.

    protest noun, verb

    demonstration against a policy or action.

    racism Noun

    government or social system based on the belief that one ethnic group is superior to all others.

    salute Noun

    gesture of greeting, farewell, or respect.

    sprint Noun

    short race.

    suspend Verb

    to temporarily stop an activity.