Black Power Fist Combo
The Civil Rights Movement of the early ’60s had given birth to the Black Power movement of the late ’60s, and Black Americans were still mourning the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had improved the situation of Black people in the United States, racism and segregation persisted.
When two Black American track athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, won gold and bronze medals, respectively, for the 200-meter sprint, each raised a black-gloved fist while standing on the winners’ platform as a form of protest against ongoing racism and injustice in the United States and throughout the world. “[It] was a cry for freedom and for human rights,” Smith told Smithsonian magazine in 2008. “We had to be seen because we couldn’t be heard.”