October 18, 1968 Two Olympians Suspended by IOC for Black Power Salute

1018 Carlos and Smith Olympics 1968

The 200m medal ceremony.

It’s an iconic photo from the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.  The two Olympians, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, made a political statement in the wake of a turbulent year back in the United States that saw the assassination of RFK and MLK, demonstrations against the Vietnam War and a contentious presidential election that was eventually won by Richard Nixon.

Sadly, 40 years later, the two men never speak with each other despite the fact that both live close to each other in Southern California.  Their only contact is bickering through the media over old arguments; usually about what happened on that day, who came up with the idea and Mr. Carlos’ claim that he pulled up to let Mr Smith win.

On a related note, on this same day in Mexico City, American long jumper Bob Beamon set a world record in the long jump (8.9m / 29’2″) that was not surpassed until 23 years later by Mike Powell.   His 1968 performance still the Olympic record, however.

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