Today in History: Tommie Smith's Black Power salute rocks the 1968 Olympics

Controversy from the incident resulted in the suspension of two athletes by the Olympic Committee, yet today it remains a key and symbolic moment for the Black Power Movement.

It happened today in history, October 18, 1968, while Tommie Smith and his teammate John Carlos stood on the winners' podium at the Mexico City Olympics to celebrate Smith's Gold 200 metres medal.

Before the world's press, Smith and Carlos struck a pose whose impact was immediately felt in the United States: the fist-aloft Black Power salute.


Tommie Smith on the podium at
the 1968 Mexico City Olympics

Today, Smith's salute remains one of the most overtly political statements in the 110 year history of the modern Olympic Games.

Yet this significance contrasts sharply with the understated way that which his medal and trainers worn that day have come to auction, 42 years later.

According to reports, Smith has declined to be involved in the sale of his consigned memorabilia, or give interviews. The auction will be held by MIT Memorabilia on November 4.

"Of course the medal is important to him, but the memory of winning the race is far more important," the auction house's Gary Zimet told the Mercury News. 

"He is doing it for the money, but not because he is desperate. If someone is willing to pay his price [then he'll sell it]."

The lot is estimated at $250,000. Smith's single black glove from his famous salute after the victory would also have been auctioned, said MIT, but the star doesn't know where it is.

Watch this space for upcoming news on the sale.

 

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