A Raised Arm and a Clenched Fist at the 1968 Olympics

11 min
Tommie Smith (C) and John Carlos (R) raise their gloved fists in the Black Power salute to express their opposition to racism in the United States. Smith and Carlos won first and third place in the men's 200m event at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games. (AFP/Getty Images)

John Carlos and Tommie Smith both won medals in the same track event at the 1968 Olympic games in Mexico City. On the medal stand, both raised clenched fists in a salute to Black power. The backlash that followed cost them the rest of their running careers and years of difficulty outside of sports. Fifty years later, the prevailing attitude toward their protest has changed, and the movement lives on with other athlete activists like Colin Kaepernick.

Guest: Rachael Myrow, KQED Silicon Valley arts reporter