1968: Black Power Salute at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games

The enduring image is from the medal stand during the playing of the U.S. national anthem, when Tommie Smith and John Carlos lowered their heads in defiance and each raised a fist in a black power salute.

In later years, Smith stated that the gesture was a human rights salute, not a black power salute. In any case, the moment is regarded as one of the earliest and most politically overt acts of an activist athlete. It came at a time when such athletes as Muhammad Ali and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were becoming increasingly active in using sport as a platform to encourage social change.