West Indian Cricketers Use 'Black Power Fist' Gesture in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter Movement

The raised black-gloved fist was most famously used in 1968 Olympics by black American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos.

The reverberations of the Black Lives Matter protests have been felt around the world. They have now officially reached the shores of cricket, a sport where the USA hardly exists. On Wednesday, the first international cricket match after a gap of more than three months, caused by Coronavirus lockdown, got underway in England.

The West Indian cricket team, which represents a group of Caribbean nations, is taking on England in a three-match Test series. Since most of the countries in West Indies are predominantly black in terms of their population, such as Jamaica and Barbados, it wasn't surprising that the team announced their decision to have Black Lives Matter written on their jerseys.

West Indies team
West Indian players, in the background, make the black power gesture Twitter/ICC

Raised fist gesture

Along with this, the team decided to have a symbolic gesture of kneeling before the start of the match. Since England had won the toss and decided to bat first, all of the 11 players on the Caribbean side were on the field as the match was about to start. All of them knelt, along with the support staff on the other side of the boundary line. The English team also joined in and performed the gesture.

But the West Indians players went a step further and, apart from kneeling, also raised their fists, covered with a black glove in the famous 'black power' gesture.

Tommie Smith
At 1968 Olympics, Tommie Smith (C) and John Carlos (R) use the raised fist gesture Twitter

Blast from the past

This gesture was most famously used in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics by Tommie Smith, the gold-medal winner in the 200-meter sprint, during the playing of USA's national anthem, while standing on the podium. The bronze medal winner in that same event, also an African-American, John Carlos, did the same, standing alongside his compatriot.

Interestingly, Peter Norman, the white Australian who was the silver medalist, and on the podium beside the two black Americans, wore the Olympic Project for Human Rights badge to show his sympathy for his competitors' cause.

All three athletes were condemned by the authorities for using the Olympics as a platform for their political views and expelled from the Olympics. However, their defiant gesture became a big news the world over and brought global attention to the civil rights movement in the US.

Back in the present, West Indies followed up their gesture by getting England opener Dom Sibley out bowled in the second over of the match. However, the match had to be stopped a little later due to rain.