Y ou're probably not familiar with the name John Carlos. But you almost certainly know his image. As the Star-Spangled Banner begins to play, Smith and Carlos, two black Americans wearing black gloves, raise their fists in the black power salute. It is a symbol of resistance and defiance, seared into 20th-century history, that Carlos feels he was put on Earth to perform. The end don't matter.
A Look at the History of the Clenched Fist
The man who raised a black power salute at the Olympic Games | World news | The Guardian
The raised fist , or the clenched fist , is a symbol of solidarity and support. However, it was popularised during the Spanish Civil War of —, when it was used by the Republican faction as a greeting, and was known as the " Popular Front salute" or the " anti-fascist salute". The salute subsequently spread among leftists and anti-fascists across Europe. The raised fist was frequently used in propaganda posters produced during the May revolt in France , such as La Lutte continue , depicting a factory chimney topped with a clenched fist.
The Fist as a Symbol of Black Power
A national debate about race and proper military behavior broke out this week after sixteen African-American West Point cadets posed with raised fists for a pre-graduation picture. An inquiry at the academy found the cadets didn't violate any existing military rules that limit political activity. But the fists-up image led some to question if the woman expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement, which is rooted in protests over what critics say is the excessive use of police force against African-American men.
This day would be remembered forever by viewers, reporters, and Olympic officials not because Smith set a world record with a time of This event is remembered because, upon receiving their medals, Smith and Carlos each donned a black glove and, in an attempt to show solidarity and resistance in the face of a number of human rights violations, raised their gloved fists while the national anthem played. This site of memory, this gesture—the raising of a closed fist as a sign of black power —did not develop organically within the context of the Olympics. While the gesture became associated almost exclusively with the black power movement and resistance from unfair policies and unwarranted biases that the black community experienced, the fist has a long, somewhat unclear history.