Tommie and his colleague John Carlos, who won the bronze medal in the 200 metres of the 1968 Olympics, shocked the world and stunned officials at the games, when they demonstrated their disgust and opposition to the cruelty of a white racist America, at the height of the civil rights struggle.
Smith and Carlos, in what was a courageous display against racism, bowed their heads, and with a black glove each, raised one of their hands in the air, as they showed reverence to their country’s national anthem that played in the background, in recognition of their success in the 200m.
Smith, who is now 66 years and living in Georgia, has stated that he feels that the incident ruined his life in many ways. The human rights protest brought international acclaim for both sprinters and American patriots but some white Americans considered their act a display of disloyalty to America.
Smith said in his autobiography that many white people in Georgia have remained bitter toward him, even up to today. He described the state as a racist place.
The auction of his gold medal and red and white puma spikes is scheduled to take place in New York, at the MIT Memorabilia. The bidding is expected to start at US$250,000 and will close on 4th November. The glove however could not be found by Smith to include in the sale.
Efforts were also being made to ascertain Carlos’ interest in a similar auction.
Sunday, 17th October marks 42 years since the two athletes gave their Black Power salute on the Olympic podium in Mexico.