Smith explains the meaning of the 'Black Power' Olympic salute to Hamilton
Olympian Tommie Smith has explained why he decided to perform the 'Black Power' salute at the 1968 Olympic Games.
Hamilton has repeatedly performed the iconic salute after climbing out of his Mercedes in 2020, and in a 'Is Anyone Listening?' video from sponsor Puma, Smith explained to Hamilton what the gesture meant to him.
Smith explained: "There’s a lot of things going into an organisation. Cranial thought has to be put there. The fist in the air represents a power that we need to move forward.
"Some people call it ‘Black Power’, some people call it ‘Power to Move’ some people just call it ‘Power’, but it was an inner motivating method of mine to make a move as a young black man in this country."
Hamilton has been vocal in his campaign to create change in Formula 1 and for business involved in the sport to hold themselves accountable for past decisions.
Speaking directly to Smith, Hamilton said: “I’ve been so inspired by you and what you did all that time ago, and I never in my life thought there would be a moment like yours that would perhaps come up for me.
“I’m in a sport which is white dominated and there is very little diversity here for example, and with everything that happened in The States, it really brought up a lot of emotions for me because a lot of people think it is only happening in the States, but yes there’s the police brutality in the States, but systemic racism is across the world.
“It’s very, very much there in Europe and England, so I experienced a lot of the growing up in the UK and then when I started travelling racing – anyway, this year it has come around and I’ve got the sport now to acknowledge that it needs to do more and I had a race that I won at home, and I got to do the stance like you did with the power, the punch in the air. I did it like you did.
“I was like, ‘this must be what Tommie felt’ but I didn’t have the crowd like you had.”
Ahead of each grand prix of 2020, drivers have been granted a moment to protest systemic racism.
However, not all drivers have been willing to take the knee, with seven electing to remain standing at recent events. The drivers remaining standing have been repeatedly questioned about their decision not to kneel, with Hamilton saying he would take time to speak to each of the seven drivers personally.
Smith experienced a similar situation at the '68 Olympics, but says it is important to respect the decisions of others.
Smith added: “We voted and the end result was that each athlete would represent himself according to how he felt his country represented them, and so we all took our own stand.
“We shook hands, we hugged each other, then we adjourned the meeting.”
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