John Carlos and Tommie Smith's Protest of the 1968 Mexico City Olympics

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What was the Impact of Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s protest in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics?
The 1968 Olympics in Mexico City was the most popular medal ceremony of all time, as Tommie Smith and John Carlos delivered the black power salute while on the medal stand, (Witherspoon, 2003). In Mexico City, Smith finished first in the 200 metres race, achieving a new world record, Carlos on the other hand finished third. Both athletes decided to each wear one black glove and black socks during their victory stand, whilst the American national anthem played, they also bowed their heads and raised black-gloved fists (Ashe, 2007). Peter Norman of Australia came second and also took part in the protest by wearing an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge as a way of protesting against racial discrimination in all countries. This iconic image not only represents one of the most memorable moments of Olympic history, but a milestone in America's civil rights movement, (Gettings, 2012). This essay will look at the overall impact that the iconic image had on the civil rights movement and the idea behind it.
In an Article about sports and society, Bridget Lockyer discusses the 1950’s onwards, as being a pivotal moment for black Americans. As they were increasingly active in speaking out about the injustice of American society; the segregation of black and white; the discrimination black Americans faced in employment and housing; the disenfranchisement of black people on electoral registers and the widespread violence and prejudice they were forced to endure, (Lockyer, 2009). Before marchers, bus riding freedom riders, boycotters and other protesters began their crusade for freedom, the Jim Crow laws prevented blacks and whites from integrati...

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...instead of backing down they stood up for what they believed in. It was an inspirational moment to see them use their medal-winning performances, as a way of highlighting the social, economic, and political injustices against African Americans in the United States. Levy (2008 pg. 226) explains how both athletes were not only unfazed by the reactions they had received after their protest, but were still proud of what they stood for, in the same way Ali put racial politics ahead of personal glory.
In a book about African-Americans and Popular Culture Boyd (2008, pg.67) states that the politics of the Olympics combined with the spotlight enabled by television allowed Smith, Carlos, Muhammad Ali and countless other black athletes with a platform to give voice to those without voice. Also, to expose the pain and suffering that had long been ignored in the United States.

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