FEATURE Image: Glenn Kaino, Bridge, 2013. A section of a 100-foot long construction that features 200 gold casts of Tommie Smith’s arm in a raised fist salute that occured in the 1968 Summer Olympics on the medal podium during the national anthem after Smith broke a sprinting record to take gold.
EXPO CHICAGO 2013 is the 2rd annual exhibition of international contemporary and modern art held in Chicago at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall on September 19-22, 2013.
Tommie Smith is an American former track and field athlete and American Football League wide receiver. On October 16, 1968, the 24-year-old Smith won the 200-meter sprint finals and gold medal in 19.83 seconds at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.
It was the first time the 20-second barrier was officially broken in competitive sports history. Atop the medal podium and with heads bowed, Smith’s Black Power salute with silver-medal-winner John Carlos protested racism and injustice against African-Americans in the United States.
Smith’s raised fist as the national anthem played is seen as one of the most overtly political statements in the history of the modern Olympics and caused memorable admiration and criticism.
In Silent Gesture: The Autobiography of Tommie Smith (Temple University Press, 2008), Smith maintained that the gesture was not solely a “Black Power” salute but a “Human Rights” salute.
In any event, Smith’s raised fist salute in 1968 became one of the most iconic moments in the Olympic games and the history of the Black Power movement.