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Adam R. Hornbuckle

was born in Laurel, Mississippi, the youngest of ten children born to Peter and Eulalia Boston. His father, who worked as a fireman for the Gulf, Mobile, and Ohio Railroad before losing sight in his right eye, provided for the family by farming, hauling junk, and doing other odd jobs. His mother was a homemaker. As a student at Oak Park High School in Laurel, Boston developed both academic and athletic skills. As quarterback on the football team, he led Oak Park to the African American state high school football championship in 1956. In track and field, Boston excelled in the hurdling, sprinting, and jumping events. As a junior in 1956 he established a national high school record in the 180-yard low hurdles and led Oak Park to the first of two consecutive African American state high school track championships.

After graduating high school in 1957 Boston earned ...

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Adam R. Hornbuckle

was born in East Orange, New Jersey, the eldest of the two children of Jetta Clark and Dr. Joe Louis Clark. The Clarks lived in Newark, a short distance from her birthplace, until moving to South Orange after the 1967 riots. Her father, who served as the principal of Eastside High School, in Paterson, New Jersey, gained national attention for enforcing discipline and improving academic achievement at Eastside, one of the state’s toughest inner-city schools, and became the subject of the 1989 film Lean on Me, in which the award-winning actor Morgan Freeman portrayed him.

Clark performed with the Alvin Ailey Junior Dance Company until the age of fourteen, when she began to participate in track, concentrating on the half-mile (880 yards), the distance at which her father excelled at William Patterson University (then known as the Paterson State Teachers College) in Wayne, New Jersey. Interviewed for the Best ...

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Olympic high jump champion, teacher, and track coach, was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, one of six children of Monroe Dumas and Nancy Dumas. His family moved to Los Angeles in 1941, when Dumas was four years old. Beginning high jumping with “the best performance … in his physical education class” in eighth grade (Hornbuckle, 83), Dumas specialized in the event. He shared second place in the city championship in his freshman year at Centennial High School and placed fourth in the state meet. In 1955 at eighteen years of age, he jumped six feet ten and one-quarter inches (2.089m).

In 1955, during his senior year in high school, Dumas set a national interscholastic record of six feet nine and three-eighths inches (2.07m). Shortly after graduating, he shared the national Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) championship with the defending high school champion, Ernie Shelton ...

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Gregory Travis Bond

athlete and educator, was born in Glencairn, Virginia, to Lindsay Jackson, a plumber, and Mary Jane (Smith) Jackson, a domestic worker. The family moved to nearby Alexandria, and while in high school Jackson worked as a barber's apprentice. In 1883 he entered the Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute (now Virginia State University) in Petersburg, a segregated public college. While at school he became good friends with fellow Virginian William Henry Lewis. Jackson and Lewis were heavily involved in campus politics, and both left the school in 1887 after Democratic state legislators forced the school's president, the civil rights activist John Mercer Langston, to resign.

The following year, probably with Langston's help, Lewis and Jackson, who was known to his contemporaries simply as “Sherman Jackson,” entered Amherst College in central Massachusetts. George Washington Forbes another African American entered Amherst that year and the ...

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Alva Moore Stevenson

chemist, Olympic medalist, and university professor, was born to Isabelle Lu Valle and James Arthur Garfield Lu Valle in San Antonio, Texas. His father was a newspaper editor in Washington, D.C., and an itinerant preacher; his mother was a secretary. Lu Valle's parents separated when he was still young, and James moved with his mother and sister to Los Angeles in 1923. His father traveled worldwide after the separation and was in Europe for a time; Lu Valle remained estranged from him. At a young age he became a voracious reader. A chemistry set given him as a child changed his original interest in the sciences from engineering to chemistry.

James was an excellent student at McKinley Junior High School His scholastic record there qualified him to attend the competitive Los Angeles Polytechnic High School where his academic interests in science and math were further cultivated ...

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Adam R. Hornbuckle

was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the youngest of three children of Claude and Victoria Jordan McDaniel. Born Mildred Louise McDaniel, she played basketball and competed in track and field as a student at the segregated David T. Howard High School, which since 1948 had been a five year high school with a reputation for strong sports teams McDaniel joined the basketball team after winning a challenge from a gym teacher who offered any girl who could make ten free throws in a row a position on the team and a pair of new shoes The team s highest scorer she led the basketball team to two high school state championships After the conclusion of the basketball season many of the players participated in track and field Initially uninterested in track and field McDaniel commented that she could probably jump higher than most of the other girls The track coach ...

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Adam R. Hornbuckle

Audrey Mae Patterson was the only child of Lionel Patterson, a porter and chauffeur, and Josephine Nero Patterson, a cook.

After graduating from Danneel Elementary School, Patterson entered Gilbert Academy, a Methodist-affiliated school in New Orleans devoted to the education of African American children. Participating on the track and field team, she compiled an undefeated record in the 100-, 220-, and 440-yard dashes. In 1944Jesse Owens, who had won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games, spoke to the students, encouraging them to pursue their dreams and remain optimistic about the future despite racial injustice. Patterson later said that she believed Owens spoke directly to her, motivating her to compete in the Olympics.

After graduating from Gilbert in 1945 Patterson enrolled at Wiley College in Marshall Texas An historically black college affiliated with the Methodist church and known for high academic standards Wiley had made significant ...

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Adam R. Hornbuckle

was born André Lamar Phillips in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The names of his parents are not recorded, but the family moved to San Jose, California when André was young. He grew up in Meadow Fair, a neighborhood in east San Jose and attended Silver Creek High School. As a high school track and field athlete, coached by Stan Dowell, he won the 300-meter low hurdles at the California Interscholastic Federation State Championships in 1977. That year, Phillips graduated high school and entered San Jose City College. In 1978 he claimed the first of two consecutive California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) Championship titles in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles and finished second in the same event at the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Junior National Championships. In 1979 Phillips also won the CCCAA title the 110 meter high hurdles Later that year at the AAU National Championships he recorded a personal ...

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Bernita D. Lucas

track and field athlete, Olympian, and educator, was born Tidye Anne Pickett in Chicago, Illinois, the younger of two children of Sarah Elizabeth Patton, homemaker and active member of the War Mothers, and Louis Alfred Pickett, who worked for the International Harvester Corporation. Tidye's parents doted on her and her elder brother Charles, raised them to love family, God, and country, and were diligent in protecting and guiding them through the sometimes harsh realities of American racism in the first half of the twentieth century.

Sarah Pickett was involved in local community affairs, and politics eventually led her to several leadership positions as chaplain, historian, and president of a local chapter of the American War Mothers, which was founded in 1917 by mothers whose children were in the armed services, and was incorporated by an Act of Congress of 24 February 1925 The ...

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Gregory Travis Bond

athlete, classical scholar, singer, postal worker, and teacher, was born in Hannibal, Missouri, to James Poage, a tanner, and Annie Coleman Poage, a domestic worker. Both parents were Missouri-born, and Annie claimed to have “freedom papers,” issued either before the outbreak of the Civil War or before the 13th Amendment in 1865. Poage’s siblings were Lulu Belle Poage and Nellie Poage, the future mother of attorney Howard Jenkins, Jr. The Poages moved to La Crosse, Wisconsin, in 1884, where James was employed as coachman and Anna as cook and domestic servant at the estate of Albert Pettibone, a wealthy lumber mill owner. After the deaths of Lulu Belle in 1887 and James of tuberculosis in 1888 Anna and her two surviving children moved to the Albert Clark Easton and Lucian Frederick Easton estate where Anna was stewardess in charge of domestic ...

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Shane Graham

South African short story writer, novelist, literary critic, track-and-field athlete, and educator, was born 1 March 1931 in Cape Town to Nancy Ward Rive. His paternity is uncertain, as his father died soon after his birth and was seldom discussed in his home, though Rive speculated in his autobiography that his father may have been an African American. Rive was raised in the mixed-race inner-city area of Cape Town known as District Six, which his writing helped to transform into an emblem of apartheid oppression and dispossession. The district was condemned as a slum in 1966 and was declared “whites only” under the Group Areas Act; subsequently the entire neighborhood was razed and left undeveloped for decades. Rive said in a 1988 interview I always feel when I am here in District 6 that I am standing over a vast cemetery of people who have been moved away against ...

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Adam R. Hornbuckle

track and field athlete and Olympian, known as The Midnight Express, was born Thomas Edward Tolan in Denver, Colorado, the son of Edward Tolan and Alice (maiden name unknown). When Tolan was a youngster, his parents moved first to Salt Lake City, Utah, and then to Detroit, Michigan, in search of better employment opportunities. In Detroit he received his secondary education at Cass Technical High School. Tolan, who played quarterback on the football team and sprinted on the track team, garnered national attention through his exceptional running ability. The highlight of his high school football career came in 1926, when the five foot seven, 140-pound speedster rushed for six touchdowns against rival Western High School. Although a subsequent knee injury limited his gridiron ability, Tolan in 1927 ran one hundred yards in 9.8 seconds, establishing a Michigan state high school record.

Upon graduating from high school in 1927 ...

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Adam R. Hornbuckle

was born Archie Franklin Williams in Oakland, California, the oldest of three children of Wadsworth R. Williams and Lillian Wall Williams. His father worked at the United States mint and died in 1925; his mother worked as a housekeeper and cook. Educated in the Oakland public school system, Williams attended Cole and Peralto elementary schools, Claremont and Edison junior high schools, and University Senior High School. After graduating high school in 1933, Williams entered San Mateo Junior College, completed the two-year degree in one year, and transferred to the University of California Berkeley in 1934.

Beginning in high school Williams participated in track and field, primarily as a quarter-miler, competing in the 440-yard dash and the 4 × 440-yard relay. He began the 1936 track season at UCB with a personal best time of 49 7 seconds in the 440 At the Pacific Coast Conference Championship ...

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Adam R. Hornbuckle

was born in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, the second youngest of twelve children, some of whom had died in infancy, of Silas Edward Woodruff, a coal miner, and Sarah Henry Woodruff, a laundress. His parents, the children of former Virginia slaves, had migrated to Pennsylvania from Pulaski County, Virginia, where they had married in 1894. Born John Youie Woodruff, he was an avid reader as a child, impressing his second-grade teacher by finishing books several years beyond his reading comprehension level. At the age of sixteen he dropped out of Connellsville High School in the hope of finding work in the factories that had employed many of his white classmates. After being rejected by employers because of his race, Woodruff returned to school and later recalled the experience as the only time discrimination worked in his favor.

During his junior year at Connellsville High School Woodruff played football until his mother ...

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Chris Elzey

track coach, teacher, and administrator, was born Stanley Van Dorne Wright in Englewood, New Jersey, the son of Spencer Wright, a sanitation worker and truck driver, and Mildred (Prime) Wright, a seamstress and cook. Growing up in a northern city proved no shield from racism. In junior high and high school, Wright had little option but to follow a curriculum for black students that de-emphasized academics. His parents, however, taught him to value education.

Unfortunately, America's involvement in World War II interrupted his schooling. Soon after Pearl Harbor, Wright joined the Army Air Corps. However, he failed to complete pilot training, and his responsibilities at an airbase in Kansas consisted primarily of office tasks. While in the Air Corps, in late 1944, he married Hazel Mathes and they would have four children. In 1945 Wright was reassigned to an airbase in Massachusetts He ...