ⓘ 1972 Olympics Black Power salute. The 1972 Olympics Black Power Salute was a political protest by two US Olympic runners Vincent Matthews and Wayne Collett duri ..


ⓘ 1972 Olympics Black Power salute

The 1972 Olympics Black Power Salute was a political protest by two US Olympic runners Vincent Matthews and Wayne Collett during the 1972 Summer Olympics at the Olympic Stadium in Munich, West Germany. This event is sometimes referred to as "The Forgotten Protest." This event came four years after the 1968 Olympics Black Power salute.


1. Protest

Both runners refused to stand for the U.S. national anthem. They subsequently stroked their beards, and twirled their medals as they left the stadium. The German crowd booed both runners for their display.


2. Media reaction

The Associated Press noted that the casual behavior of Matthews and Collett during the playing of the anthem as "disrespectful," and described the conduct as follows:

Collett, bare-footed, leaped from the No. 2 tier to the No. 1 stand beside his teammate. They stood sideways to the flag, twirling their medals, with Matthews stroking his chin. Their shoulders slumped, neither stood erect nor looked at the flag. As whistles and catcalls continued, Collett raised a clenched fist to the crowd before entering the portal of the dressing room.

Robert Markus reported in the Chicago Tribune on September 9, 1972

. What I tried to get across to the Olympic Committee was if it was pre-meditated I could have done something better than that. It was just something that happened. We didnt realize the implications to the people in the stands."

In an interview after the medal ceremony with the American Broadcasting Company, Collett said the national anthem meant nothing to him. He explained that he had felt unable to honor the anthem, because of the struggle faced by African Americans at the time: "I couldnt stand there and sing the words because I dont believe theyre true. I wish they were. I believe we have the potential to have a beautiful country, but I dont think we do." The pair were banned from future Olympic competition by the International Olympic Committee IOC. IOC president Avery Brundage deemed it to be a domestic political statement unfit for the apolitical, international forum the Olympic Games were intended to be. Since John Smith had pulled a hamstring 80 meters into the final while leading and had been ruled unfit to run, the U.S. were now unable to field a team in the 4 × 400 meter relay and were forced to scratch from the event.


2.1. Media reaction Athlete statements

I wasnt acting any differently than I usually do, but we were like goldfish in a fishbowl, in front of all those people. If they wanted me to stand at attention, I couldve probably done that, but it wouldnt be me, and I was led to believe that the Olympics was for the athlete. We consider ourselves athletes, not politicians, or marching bands. Our athletic competition was over, and we were both happy.


3. After the games

Both runners received a lifelong ban from the IOC. This banning forced the US to scratch from the 4 × 400 meter relay where the Americans would be favored to win. Both runners were eventually elected to the Black Olympian Hall of Fame. This display by the athletes would be overshadowed by the Munich massacre. Collett went on to become a lawyer. In 2011, Matthews was elected to the USATF Hall of Fame.

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