For this African American Baby Boomer there is no more poignant image of the ’60s than that of Tommy Smith and John Carlos with their heads bowed and their fist raised in the “Black Power” salute as they took their places on the medal podium after competing in the 200 meter run during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.
Today Smith announced that he would sell his Gold Medal for $250,000.
The photo of Smith and Carlos shocked the world and a lot of people criticized the two for politicizing the Games. The International Olympic Committee went so far as to ban the two athletes for life from ever participating again. The Australian runner Peter Norman, who had placed second wore an American Olympic Project for Human Rights badge in support of the black athletes and was consequently left off of the 1972 Olympic team.
Smith’s record of 19.5 seconds in the 200 meters held for 44 years and wasn’t broken until May of this year by Tyson Gaye.
Smith and Carlos suffered because of their “Silent Gesture”, including death threats on themselves and their families and Smith has said that the gesture was misunderstood and ruined his life.Share on Facebook