FEBRUARY IS BLACK HISTORY MONTH
The fight against racial discrimination was taken to the biggest world stage ever during the track and field competitions in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico.
Tommie Smith from the USA a holder of seven gold medals wins the 200 meters with a time of 19.83 seconds and breaks the 20 seconds barriers in this discipline.
Peter Norman an Australian is second with a time of 20.06 and John Wesley Carlos, USA, is third with a time of 20.1 sec.
Tommie Smith and John Carlos are black Americans and on the winners podium received their medal.
Both have a black leather glove in one hand and are not wearing shoes but only black socks. They stand being Peter Norman when the “stars and stripes” is hoisted and “The Star-Spangled Banner” plays and they both raise a clench fist as a silent protest of black discrimination in the USA.
The majority of the 83,000 spectators in the stadium Estadio Olímpico Universitario jeer after the American flag is fully hoisted and the national anthem stops playing.
Later on, Tommie Smith, in an interview said “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.”
For their action the Olympic committee banned Tommie Smith and John Wesley Carlos for life and both are immediately sent back to their country.
- Black Power Salute: 1968 Olympian Tommie Smith Sells Gold Medal (suite101.com)
- Chicago Tough’s Black History Month Celebration: Great Sports Moments (chicagonow.com)