To Have Fought Well.

Long may they wave….

It may be the most iconic moment in all of sports history. Forty years ago, this week, U.S. athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos, center and right, above, having placed gold and bronze medals, respectively, in the 200m dash at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, went to the center of the field to accept their honors.

They stepped onto the podium, shoeless, wearing black socks, and, as “The Star-Spangled Banner” sounded forth, lowered their heads, and raised gloved, Black power fist salutes to the heavens. (LIFE magazine photographer John Dominis snapped the powerful image.)

The reaction was immediate and passionate. The stadium audience hotly booed the duo as they walked away, and the International Olympic Committee, which governs the games, expelled the athletes, as their protest made headlines around the globe.

In her 2002 book, Not the Triumph but the Struggle: The 1968 Olympics and the Making of the Black Athlete, historian Amy Bass deeply diagrams the backdrop against which the protests took place, but, even more, shows how the act powerfully redefined the concept of the Black athlete in the popular imagination.

Dr. Amy Bass is the guest, today, on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, October 17, 2 pm ET.

If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, you can check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, check out our archive for up to two weeks after broadcast.



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