Olympic gold medalist Tommie Smith is best known for shocking the world in Mexico City with his Black Power salute on the podium at the 1968 Olympics. The infamous sprinter is selling that gold medal along with his Puma spikes through New York-based M.I.T. Memorabilia and if you aren’t loaded, you may want to sit this one out. Bids start at a cool $250,000! The sale will close on November 4th.
66-year-old Tommie Smith took the gold for the 200 meters and broke the world record, but he was later expelled along with bronze medalist John Carlos. At the medals ceremony, the pair bowed their heads during The Star-Spangled Banner and then “raised their black-gloved fists in protest”, reports the Associated Press. This human rights protest went on to earn international attention.
On Tommie Smith’s official website, you can get his perspective on the aftermath of the incident. He still questions why the public viewed the gesture as “an act of disloyalty to the country he represented.” Tommie Smith has a valid point and writes:
Why do so many Americans still consider this gesture as disrespectful even today, when we consider ourselves to be politically correct and considerably more understanding of cultural differences?
Further down the page, the bio reads “If he had chosen to clasp his hands together in prayer, while bowing his head, would he have still been misunderstood?” I think we know the answer there is a big fat NO.
In HBO’s Fists of Freedom, Tommie Smith further explains, “We were not Antichrists. We were just human beings who saw a need to bring attention to the inequality in our country. I don’t like the idea of people looking at it as negative. There was nothing but a raised fist in the air and a bowed head, acknowledging the American flag – not symbolizing a hatred for it.”
He makes a strong case for himself.