Smith and Carlos’s demonstration stood for black pride and resistance; but it has proved pliable and came to be used by workers, other minorities, and leftists to signal their struggles against in equality and solidarity with black pride. By the early 1970s, the widespread adoption of the black fist as a symbol of resistance and pride had led to its commoditization. Most common were Afro “picks” with a black fist handle, T-shirts emblazoned with a black fist, and black fist medallions. The persistent advertisement of these products in black-oriented publications like the mainstream Ebony and the Nation of Islam’s Muhammad Speaks and during broadcasts of the popular television dance program Soul Train, as well as the presence of Smith-Carlos posters in dorm rooms and barbershops, ensured that for more than three decades after their demonstration in Mexico City, the moment continued to personify the spectacular ways that Black Power activists and campaigns made themselves heard in American and international discourses.
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Smith and Carlos’s Demonstration