Tommie Smith: an American legend visits the UK


Voice4change England is extremely pleased to announce the imminent arrival in October 2018 of Olympic sprinter Tommie Smith for the 50th anniversary of his historic salute at the 1968 Olympic Games. 

Olympic sprinters Tommie Smith, John Carlos backed by Australian Peter Norman stood atop the podium at the 1968 Games in Mexico City and raised black-gloved fists during the playing of the US national anthem, outraging the American establishment and inspiring millions of others. They were both vilified at home for their protest against racial inequality in the United States. Suspended from the U.S. team they even received death threats. But they never apologised for their action and never felt the need to. 

More recently, the continuing impact of the 1968 images and protest has been seen in the outrage at Trayvon Martin’s killing and a spate of video police attacks on Black people and demonstration that consequently followed. Singer Beyoncé used the Black protest imagery in her controversial 2017 Super Bowl presentation.  More recently the influence of Smith’s raised fist can also be found in debates relating to sport protests and ‘Bending of the Knee’ demonstrations in the NFL criticised by President Trump. 


Voice4Change England has worked with Tommie and his foundation on several occasions, hosted his exclusive appearance at the London Olympic Games in 2012 and his Foundation visit to the Olympic Park in 2011. 

This year, Voice4Change England is organising major events in London and Leicester: 

  • The screening of “Black Power salute” at BFI Southbank on October 9th as part of ‘Black and Banned’ a month-long film and TV season of work by and about the African diaspora, all of which was subject to varying forms of censorship. This documentary, directed by Geoff Small, asks what inspired the athletes to make this courageous gesture and why it carried such a powerful message. It will be followed by a conversation with Tommie and Voice4change director Kunle Olulode. 
  • “Fists of Defiance: Tommie Smith 50 Years After Mexico '68 “at the British Library on October 10th. Join Tommie and special guests for late night conversations considering the repercussions and legacy of their iconic gesture. 
  • Tommie Smith in Conversation at de Montfort university in Leicester on October 11th:  Fifty years on, Tommie Smith tells his own story about that day and how this still resonates today. Copies of Tommie Smith’s Biography ‘Silent Gesture’ will also available for purchase. 

Other events are to be announced. 


We at Voice4Change England are excited and looking forward to having Tommie here in the UK to mark this historical event of 50 years that inspired anti-racist activist worldwide and has become a symbol of the fight for social equality and human rights.  

For more information and enquiries, please contact us at or 020 7485 4789.