Tommie Smith’s fist is still raised: ‘We still need to fight’
By Ken Belson
In 1968, Tommie Smith and John Carlos stepped to the podium at the Olympics in Mexico City to receive their medals in the 200-meter dash. Wearing black socks and no shoes to represent poverty and black gloves to signify black power and liberation, the sprinters raised their fists.
The silent protest, which Smith, 76, called “a cry for freedom,” effectively ended their running careers. But it remains one of the most iconic images in the history of sports, and it continues to resonate after the death of George Floyd in police custody and the subsequent protests of racially driven violence against African American people.
Athletes who protest, including Colin Kaepernick, the NFL quarterback who knelt during the national anthem before games in the 2016 season to raise awareness of police brutality, are often shouted down. But this time, some of the nation’s biggest sports stars — as well as their teams and leagues — have called for an end to racism and the need for police reform.