The History Of Athletes Protesting Shows It’s More Than Just A Modern Occurrence

Trending | 9/17/18

Colin Kaepernick kneeling was a shock to many. His controversial anthem protest created a conversation about race relations and what is considered patriotic in America. For many people, this was the first major athlete protest they’d ever seen. The truth is professional athletes have a rich history of protesting for reasons ranging from politics to religion. Whether we’re talking about the 1968 Olympics or when Pat Tillman chose his country over his career in 2002, athletes have never been shy to let their voices be heard about the problems they see within society.

Tommie Smith And John Carlos Raised Their Fists High At The 1968 Olympics

Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

The Olympics are supposed to be a time when the world sets its differences aside to celebrate sports. In reality, the competition has been filled with athlete protests, none more memorable than that of Tommie Smith and John Carlos, two black athletes, who raised their fists in the air on the medal podium to celebrate black power in 1968.

Smith said after the gesture that every detail was planned, saying, “my raised right hand stood for the power in black America. Carlos’ raised left hand stood for the unity of black America. Together they formed an arch of unity and power.”