Today marks the 50 year anniversary of the iconic black salute; the upraising of one's fist, led by Olympic medalist Tommie Smith. At the 1968 Summer Olympics, Smith raised his fist during the singing of the national anthem to protest racial injustice in America after winning a gold medal in the 200-meter sprint. Smith was joined by John Carlos who won the bronze medal in the same category. Peter Norman, the silver medalist from Australia who came in second place did not join the two in raising his fist but sported human rights badges on his jacket as his show of support. The two black men were unsurprisingly shunned by American citizens, became victims of abuse, and received death threats for their silent protests; while Norman was criticized for supporting the two and was denied the opportunity to compete in next Olympic games despite his qualifications.
50 years later, what has America learned? Absolutely nothing! If you keep up with the NFL and Faux News. I mean, Fox news. Colin Kaepernick a former NFL quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers has been ostracized, condemned, mocked, ridiculed and is now without work for doing the same exact thing! Silently taking a knee during the singing of the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustices in America has led this country down the same dark alley it took with Smith and Carlos back in the 60s. Donald Trump; the leader of the "free world", openly shares his disdain for Kaepernick and has on more than one occasion publicly rejected and attacked his character and good name. He has even gone so far to call athletes who kneel "sons of b*tches." Meanwhile. Mississippi's constable Don Cother publicly posted on his Facebook that if "Osama Bin Laden had a son, it would be Colin Kaepernick," and still, memes have surfaced saying that "what's happened to the NFL is Colin cancer." A show of vile and overt racism disguised as patriotism.
50 years later, myself and the students at Achievement First Endeavor Charter School located in Brooklyn, New York have made a conscious decision to be the #thirdsalute along with Smith and Carlos. We raise our fists proudly in solidarity with the message of Tommie Smith in 1968 and Colin Kaepernick in 2018. In the famous words of Auntie Maxine, "we will not yield one second" to white supremacy and racial injustice.