Before taking a knee for the national anthem, raising a fist was showing protest. At the Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City in 1968, two black athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, protested by showing a black gloved fist on the podest while receiving their first and third place medals.
The two U.S. athletes staged a protest not only by their black gloves, but were shoeless, wearing only black socks, to represent black poverty. Smith’s black scarf is a symbol of black pride and Carlos unzipping his jacket stands for the solidarity with black workers.
In 2005, the SJSU honored the former students Smith and Carlos, with a statue depicting their protest. Victory Salute by artist Rigo 23 leaves the second place empty because the Australian Peter Norman wanted people to be able to stand in his place. There is a plaque on the second place reading ‘Fellow athlete Australian Peter Norman stood here in solidarity. Take a Stand’.
To continue the art of protest the Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Library, not a five minute walk away, has an exhibit of the same name. Here you can look at protest posters from the 1970’s, opposition the Vietnam War, racism or pollution. The collection belongs to the San Jose Peace and Justice Center and is on display on the 4th floor of the library until March 30th, 2018.
There are example of different styles of poster art and the evolution it went through in this time period.
Are you a supporter of protest art?