During the national anthem, gold and bronze medallists in the 200 metre run, Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos, clenched their fists and put up their hands wearing black gloves in support of the radical Afro-American Black Power movement. Their photographs soon made a tour of the whole world. However, the two athletes then suffered consequences of their gesture.
They violated one of the fundamental principles of the Olympic Games – their non-political character, raged Avery Brundage, head of the International Olympic Committee. Two days later, the two athletes were expelled from the American team. When they returned home, they were criticized by American media and partially also by the public. Their families started getting threatening letters.
Apart from the raised fists and lowered heads , Smith,(who by the way also broke the world record), tied a scarf around his neck as a symbol of dignity and in his left hand held a box with olive twigs, a symbol of peace. Carlos wore a necklace symbolizing victims of slavery and racism. Both of them had no shoes, only black socks, to illustrate the state of poverty of Afro-American people. The two Americans were supported by the silver medallist, Australian Peter Norman, who climbed the podium with the symbol of an organization for human rights, co-founded by Smith.
-- from an article written in December 2008 (František Sládek)