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Tommie Smith, John Carlos were ridiculed after raising fists during Olympics. Fifty years on, they inspire others. Fifty years ago, two African American track-and-field stars, having just been awarded their medals at the Olympic Summer Games and very aware that the eyes of the world were fastened to them, bowed their heads and raised black-gloved clenched fists under a Mexico City sky.

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While on the podium, Smith and Carlos, who had won gold and bronze medals respectively in the meter running event of the Summer Olympicsturned to face the US flag and then kept their hands raised until the anthem had finished. In addition, Smith, Carlos, and Australian silver medalist Peter Norman all wore human-rights badges on their jackets. In his autobiography, Silent GestureSmith stated that the gesture was not a " Black Power " salute but rather a "human rights" salute.

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The photograph, taken after the meter race at the Summer Olympics in Mexico City, turned African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos from track-and-field stars into the center of a roiling controversy over their raised-fist salute, a symbol of black power and the human rights movement at large. Smith and Carlos, who had won gold and bronze, respectively, agreed to use their medal wins as an opportunity to highlight the social issues roiling the United States at the time. Racial tensions were at a height, and the Civil Rights movement had given way to the Black Power movement.

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This story appears in the Oct. Click here for more. Start with the image, a still life of protest. It captures a vital moment in history, yet its meaning evolves, as time measures what has—and has not—been learned.

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The raised fistor the clenched fistis a symbol of solidarity and support. However, it was popularised during the Spanish Civil War ofwhen 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.

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Source: AP. It was the most popular medal ceremony of all time. The photographs of two black American sprinters standing on the medal podium with heads bowed and fists raised at the Mexico City Games in not only represent one of the most memorable moments in Olympic history but a milestone in America's civil rights movement.

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Thank you for signing up. Sorry, it looks like an error occurred. Here's a brief history of the 'raised-fist salute' famously used by Olympians John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the Olympics.

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A few hours earlier, it was far from certain that Tommie Smith and John Carlos would be on the medal stand at all. Smith, the favorite to win gold in the meters at the Olympics in Mexico City, had strained his adductor muscle in a heat and was unsure he could run at full speed. Carlos, his friend and fellow American, had nearly been disqualified when he left his lane in a heat of his own.

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Photograph: Getty. Fifty years on from the Mexico Olympics and time has held on to Tommie Smith and John Carlos, their black-gloved fists still clenched and raised, heads bowed in defiance; two of the most sombre medal winners to ever stand on an Olympic podium. Smith and Carlos may have appeared supremely controlled but the experience was terrifying: Carlos held his arm in a way he hoped might shield his face from the sniper fire he half expected.

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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.

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