Jay-Z and Beyoncé are known for stunning with their husband-and-wife Halloween costumes, so it’s no surprise that the couple captured the attention of basically the whole internet with their 2018 looks. But not everyone will be familiar with the decorated Olympic athletes they chose to embody.
Jay-Z put on a USA tracksuit to portray runner Tommie Smith. Once one of the fastest men on earth, Smith set a world record at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City with a 19.83-second 200-meter dash that him a gold medal.
But Smith’s achievement is remembered at least as much for what came after: When he and fellow American John Carlos stood on the podium to accept their medals, they bowed their heads and raised black-gloved fists in the air. The gesture was largely seen as a Black Power salute-not exactly a widely approved message at the time-though Smith has said he was more broadly focused on human rights.
Here's Tommie Smith and John Carlos' salute:
The ensuing controversy effectively ended his sprinting career, though in more recent years he’s been widely celebrated as a sports hero.
That’ll only become more true now that one of the most famous rappers of all time has given his stamp of approval. Jay-Z raised his own fist to recreate the legendary photo of Smith, gold medal dangling from his neck. Beyoncé by his side helped him nail the overall presentation with her own sports inspiration. The singer (in her second Halloween costumethis year) dressed as American track and field star Florence Griffith Joyner, recreating the athlete’s fuschia-and-aqua, ‘80s-to-its-core one-legged bodysuit.
Flo-Jo, as she was known, is considered the fastest woman of all time. She set world records for the 100m and 200m sprints and won three gold medals at the 1988 Olympics. She sadly died at age 38 in 1998 as a result of an epileptic seizure. Among other things, she was known for her bold looks, and Beyoncé wasn’t afraid of putting on long, colorful nails to pay tribute to Flo-Jo.
Beyoncé’s Instagram posts showing off the costumes didn’t come with captions, but they weren’t really necessary. Their Halloween statement was all empowering people of color-in 2018, and every other year. Or as Jay-Z on his 4:44 album, “Legacy, legacy, legacy, legacy / Black excellence baby, you gon' let 'em see.”