Factbox: What is the Black Power Salute?

Peter Norman (L) may receive a posthumous apology over the Black Power protest at the 1968 Olynpics.

Here's a brief history of the 'raised-fist salute' famously used by Olympians John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 Olympics. But does it stand for black power or human rights?

What do the Albanian National Liberation Front and the Zimbabwe African National Union have in common?

Both groups, and a great many that begin with letters of the alphabet in-between, have used the raised fist salute as a symbol of solidarity.

It is also used as a salute to express unity, strength, defiance, or resistance.

The salute dates back to ancient Assyria as a symbol of resistance in the face of violence.

The clenched black fist, also known as the Black Power fist is a logo generally associated with black nationalism and sometimes socialism.

Its most widely-known usage is by the Black Panther Party in the 1960s.

Amongst black rights activists, especially in the United States it has been called the Black Power salute.

The Black Power salute is known as an overtly political gesture.

At the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, medal winners John Carlos and Tommie Smith gave the raised fist salute during the American national anthem as a sign of black power, and as a protest on behalf of the Olympic Project for Human Rights.

As the national anthem began playing, each man raised one gloved hand, and shaped it into a fist. Smith raised his right, Carlos his left.

Together, the raised fists represented the unity their movement had.

Neither man wore shoes, just black socks representing the poverty the black community faced. It also demonstrated the long walk to equality they were prepared to make.

Smith wore a black scarf, to symbolise the pride and humility he and his race had.

Accompanying the medal around his neck, Carlos wore beads:

"They were for those individuals that were lynched, or killed that no one said a prayer for, that were hung and tarred. It was for those thrown off the side of the boats in the middle passage."

Against Olympic protocol, both men unzipped their tracksuit tops -- a tribute to the struggle of the blue-collar worker everywhere.

Both men bowed their heads as the Star Spangled Banner played. Boos echoed throughout the stadium when the music stopped and the athletes departed.

Smith and Carlos were banned from further Olympic activities.

Back home, they were subject to abuse and they and their families received death threats.

Time magazine showed the five-ring Olympic logo with the words, "Angrier, Nastier, Uglier", instead of "Faster, Higher, Stronger".

Tommie Smith later stated in his autobiography, "Silent Gesture", that the salute was not a Black Power salute, but in fact a human rights salute.

Today, the official IOC website states that "Over and above winning medals, the black American athletes made names for themselves by an act of racial protest".


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