Enriqueta Basilio: the first lit woman

Did you know that the lighting of the Olympic torch was never carried out by a woman until 1968 when Mexico’s Enriqueta Basilio became the first to do it?  At age 20, she was a rising track star competing in the 400 m., the 100-m. relay and the 80-m hurdles, yet she only made it to the first heat in her events. She did, however, blaze a path for others to follow in her footsteps. We’ve gathered some important events from 1968 to give you context of how lit this moment really was.

In 1968 …

  • US was at war with Vietnam
  • Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered
  • The EEOC finally ruled that sex was not a BFOQ (bona fide occupation qualification) for the job of airline flight attendant.
  • It took 1000 police officers to end the week-long student takeover of Columbia University.
  • “Bloody Monday” took place in France
  • Robert Kennedy murdered
  • The Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia
  • The Womens Liberation gained momentum
  • Mexico City reacts to a violent student – led protest in Tlatelolco Square.
  • Apollo 7 launched.
  • More than 110 women from 37 states and Canada convened in Chicago for the first national Women’s Liberation Conference.
  • The Summer Olympic Games open in Mexico City. The games have been boycotted by 32 African nations in protest of South Africa’s participation. Later in the games, Tommie Smith and John Carlos will salute black power during their medal ceremony.


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