Community activists and well wishers gathered to witness Councilmember Charles Barron and other members of the Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus award proclamations to four courageous Olympic athletes who, during the 1968 Olympics raised their fists in the defiant Black Power pose.
They were a group of new-thinking athletes who highlighted social and racial injustices in the 1960s and 1970s.
As the proclamations issued by New York’s City Hall elaborated, in 1968, during the Olympic Games in Mexico City, American sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith stunned the world not only with their athletic achievements, but with one of the most memorable acts of civil disobedience.
After Carlos won the bronze medal and Smith won the gold in the 200-meter race, they stood on the awards podium as the American flag rose and the Star-Spangled Banner played. With their eyes closed and heads bowed, Smith raised his right black-glove-covered fist in the air while Carlos raised his left fist to represent unity in Black America.