Tommie Anthem at the Medal Ceremony. Smith and
Tommie Smith and John Carlos experienced crucial racial inequality issues during the 1968 Olympics for raising a clenched fist during the National Anthem at the Medal Ceremony. Smith and Carlos raised their fists because the clenched fist symbolizes a salute to express unity, strength, and resistance. Young, amatuer African-American athletes, just like Smith and Carlos, helped create the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR) in October 1967, to protest against racial segregation in the United States and other countries such as South Africa. Ultimately the OPHR wanted to abolish racism in sports.They stood up for what they believed in, which was equal rights for everybody. Lastly, after the act that Smith and Carlos committed, they both received some hate from a portion of the crowd, and some even as harsh as death threats. Not only did they get negative feedback from the crowd, but they were also banned from anymore Olympic activity for the rest of their lives by the Olympic Committee, and they were immediately dismissed from the USA team. The outrage of the Black athletes to boycott the games was acceptable, especially since the way they are being treated by everybody . Since their raising of the fists, Smith and Carlos have been ridiculed and treated like low lifes and been the subject of death threats. Smith and Carlos believed they were doing the right thing by raising their fists and within the objective of human rights and its agenda in the world, they were. Despite apparent racial tension, The United States has always claimed to stand for the rights of all; however it does not appear that this is the case given the treatment that Smith and Carlos have been subjected to since their demonstration. Protesters vary from religious, social, civil, and political rights groups. They use the Olympic games to get their message across to the public. Many athletes also have portrayed their support to these groups. Tommie Smith, John Carlos, and Cathy Freeman, are among the individuals who have exercised their beliefs in social, civil, and political rights of their people through their actions before, during, or even after their sporting events. These types of demonstrations offer the viewing public the informative events occurring around the world and should be continued throughout the years. These demonstrations will be a part of the games for a very long time because of the problems encountered in today’s society. The 1968 Olympic games held in Mexico City were among the most controversial games ever hosted. This was the time of high tensions of racism in the United States, which was escalated by the assassinations of, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, along with the Civil Rights Movement. According to Senn an American, Harry Edwards, called on black athletes to protest the general condition of blacks in the United States by refusing to compete under the American flag in the Olympic games (137).The 1968 Olympic Games was held in Mexico City. The Games were attended by 112 countries represented by almost 5,500 athletes. East and West Germany competed for the first time as separate countries. Drug testing and female gender verification were conducted for the first time. The high elevation of Mexico City 7,349 feet was both a benefit and a con to track-and-field competitors. The sprinters and field athletes thrived in the thin air. The same was not true for most of the distance runners. African runners, who trained at high elevations, had an advantage; Kip Keino of Kenya did well, earning gold and silver medals. Ten days before the Olympics were scheduled to open on Oct. 12, over 300 Mexico City university students were killed by army troops when a campus protest turned into a riot. Still, the Games began on time and were free of discord until black Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who finished 1-3 in the 200-meter run, bowed their heads and gave the Black Power salute during the national anthem as a protest against racism in the U.S.In Mexico City, Smith finished first in the 200 meters race, achieving a new world record, Carlos finished third. Both athletes decided to each wear one black glove and black socks during their victory stand, while the American national anthem played, they also bowed their heads and raised black-gloved fists. 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 image not only represents one of the most memorable moments of Olympic history, but a milestone in America’s civil rights movements. Instead of backing down they stood up for what they believed in. It was an immaculate setting to see them use their medal-winning performances, as a way of exposing the economic, political, and social injustices against African Americans in the United States. Both athletes were cool and calm by the reactions they had received after their protest, and were still proud of what they stood for, in the same way Ali put racial politics ahead of personal glory. Being that the Olympics had exposure to everyone around the world on television, it allowed athletes like Smith, Carlos, Muhammad Ali and many more other black athletes with a setting to give voice to those without voice. Also, to expose the pain and suffering that had long been ignored in the United States. Smith inferred that their actions were not of a black power salute, but an Olympic project for human rights. He also stated that the black-gloved fists represented African-American pride, and their black socks were a testament to poverty encountered by African-Americans during those times. The U.S. organizing committee immediately removed Smith and Carlos from the track and field team as a result of their protest. Smith and Carlos however took advantage of their day in the spotlight and made news around the world. They stood for something that needed to be abolished, which was racism, and took a stand. Over the years, the suspense of racism slowly decreased in the U.S., as a result of one of the biggest nationwide protest ever seen. Smith, now 64, claims to have come up with the idea of raising their fists, because his first wife, Denise, had the brought the black leather gloves in Mexico City. Carlos, 63, claimed the whole thing was his idea. Carlos also insisted he allowed Smith to beat him in the race. There will be some individuals that are unmoved by the boycott saying that the United States can still be successful in the Games without black athletes. It is not a matter of whether a boycott is the right thing to do or not, it is that it is the only thing that can be done to send a serious message. Tommie Smith and John Carlos did what they can to try and expose themselves to get their message across. They had the perfect opportunity during the Medal Ceremony, where everybody’s attention was toward them, and when the young athletes raised their clenched fist it was a stand for what they believe in, and it was a deeper then a clenched fist. Unfortunately, everyone did not agree with the athletes by throwing disrespect towards them, but it is for a bigger cause than just African-American rights. It is for everybody to have equal rights around the nation, and around the world. It does not matter of your origin, or your skin color, God created us all to be treated as equal human beings. Smith and Carlos raised their fists because the clenched fist symbolizes a salute to express unity, strength, defiance, or resistance.