Photo4TheDay: The 1968 Olympic Black Power Salute

During the 1968 Olympics Tommie Smith & John Carlos raised their black fists during the national anthem after winning the gold & silver medals. This was a huge move made at the time because not only was it seen as disrespectful to the nation they represented it also was the symbol of a new, radical “black power” movement the government feared. Both men were eventually stripped of their medals, but the job was done. They made their point clear here with this act. They put their blackness ahead of their nationhood, and that idea scared America. You have a group that lost their cultural ties and identity. African people in America were called Niggers, Negros, Colored, Black, African-Americans and a host of other names. The problem was that they were never able to reconnect with those roots. Many people wrongfully think that we must all “go back to Africa” to reconnect, and of course it would help that isn’t what it means. There is a culture and there are values that are inherently African. There is a history that comes with the color of our skin, there is an experience that comes with this skin that no other group can relate to and we must recognize this. We must realize that being “American” is something you learn to become. Black is something you are born with and something that never leaves you. I think Tommie and John did this to tell us all to be black and be proud of that fact. This image means we should embrace what we are above anything else. People love calling America “the melting pot”, but Charles Ogaltree says we should treat it more like a “salad bowl”. We shouldn’t forget about our culture, but embrace it while being tolerant of others. I think every group understands this expect for African people. Now, there are some people that see America as a “toilet bowl”, but that’s for another conversation. This is a very powerful image nonetheless.