From Tommie and John’s Black Power salute to Gabby Douglas becoming the first African American to win an individual gymnastics title, here are some of the most memorable moments for African Americans in the Olympics.
1. Muhammad Ali Lights The Olympic Torch (1996)Source:Getty
Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest athletes of all time, was chosen to light the Olympic Flame during the Opening Ceremony of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia.
2. Gabby Douglas Makes Gymnastics History (2012)Source:Getty
At the London 2012 Olympics Gabby became the first African American woman (and first woman of color of any nationality) to win gold in the individual all-around competition in gymnastics.
3. The Dream Team (1992)Source:Getty
Arguably one of the best basketball teams that ever existed, the team’s roster included Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Larry Bird, Scottie Pippen, Magic Johnson, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley and more. The team would go on to win the gold medal and never go below a 32 point differential in competition.
4. Black Power At The Mexico Olympics (1968)Source:Getty
Runners Tommie Smith and John Carlos would win gold and bronze in the 200m event and each hold a black fist in the air during the podium ceremony as the “Star-Spangled Banner” played, making it the most outwardly political statement at any Olympics ever.
5. Jackie Joyner-Kersee Overcomes Injury (1996)Source:Getty
Jackie Joyner-Kersee became the most awarded female athlete at the time when she won her sixth medal at the 1996 games. What is even more amazing is that she fought through injury and still won a bronze medal in the heptathlon.
6. USA Women’s Basketball Team Wins Seventh Gold (2012)Source:Getty
That’s right, the US women’s basketball team won their seventh gold medal in 2012. They have been unbeatable at every Olympics from 1996-2012.
7. Jesse Owens Crushes Hitler’s Aryan Supremacy (1936)Source:Getty
The 1936 Olympic games were to be a showcase of Aryan supremacy according to Hitler. Hitler and the Nazis did not plan for Jesse Owens to smash the competition and win four gold medals, the most of anyone at the games that year.
8. Carl Lewis Becomes A Legend (1996)Source:Getty
Carl won his final medal at the 1996 Olympic games in the long jump, giving him a career total of four gold medals in the one event and a career total of nine gold medals.
9. Gail Devers Overcomes Illness (1992)Source:Getty
Gail Devers was diagnosed with Graves’ disease in 1990 but that didn’t stop her from chasing gold at the 1992 games where she won the 100m dash.
10. Alice Coachman’s High Jump Win (1948)Source:Getty
In 1948, Alice Coachman became the first African American woman to win a gold medal at the Olympics.
11. U.S. Boxing Team Brings Home Seven Medals (1976)Source:Getty
The team comprised of Sugar Ray Leonard, Leon Spinks, Michael Spinks, Leo Randolph and Howard Davis Jr. is considered to be one of the best boxing teams in Olympic history.
12. Michael Johnson Wins Double (1996)Source:Getty
Michael Johnson became the first athlete to win both the 200m and 400m.
13. John Taylor Becomes The First (1908)Source:Getty
John Taylor became the first African American to win a gold medal at the Olympics by winning the 4×400.
14. Bob Hayes Makes History In The 100m (1964)Source:Getty
“Bullet Bob” won gold in the 100m and became the first to do it in under 10 seconds.
15. Dan O’Brien Comes Back (1996)Source:Getty
Dan O’Brien didn’t qualify for the 1992 Olympics. His determination prevailed when he won the gold medal in the decathlon in 1996.
16. U.S. Boxing Team Wins Big (1984)Source:Getty
The team won nine golds that year making them one of the most successful teams. The roster included future stars Meldrick Taylor and Pernell Whitaker.