1968: The Black Power Olympic Protest

Gold medalist Tommie Smith (center) and bronze medalist John Carlos (right) raised their fists in protest at the 1968 Summer Olympics. (thetimes.co.uk)

Today, seeing athletes making social or political gestures during sporting events is not unusual, but it certainly was in the 1960s. The groovy era was a tumultuous time in American history with protests erupting over racial equality, women’s rights, and more. During the 1964 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City, two American athletes participated in what has been described as the “most overtly political statement in the history of the modern Olympics.” Just what did these two men do that was so controversial? They simply raised one fist in the air while standing on the podium, as the national anthem of the United States played.