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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 ...

Article

Kimberly Cheek

track-and-field athlete, was born John Wesley Carlos in Harlem, New York, the youngest of five children of Earl Vanderbilt Carlos, a cobbler, and Vioris Carlos, a nurse's aide. Initially Carlos desired to become an Olympic swimmer, but few African Americans had access to suitable training facilities for those events. He was encouraged by local police officers to become involved in track and field and trained at the New York Pioneer Club. He competed for the first time when he represented the Machine Trade and Metal High School at the Penn Relays. During his senior year Carlos married Karen Benjamin Groce on 29 February 1965 and with her had two children. Following high school he was awarded a full track-and-field scholarship to East Texas State University at Commerce.

In 1967 during his first year at East Texas State Carlos won the university s first Lone Star Conference title and ...

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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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Adam R. Hornbuckle

was born George Lawrence James in Mount Pleasant, New York, the son of Martha James; his father’s name is unrecorded. James began participating in track and field in seventh grade and continued at White Plains High School in White Plains, New York. Coached by Ed Kehe, he demonstrated all-around ability in the sport, especially in the 180-yard low hurdles, 330-yard intermediate hurdles, 220- and 440-yard dashes, and the triple jump. In 1966 James won the 180-yard low hurdles at the New York Public School State Championships and belonged to the 880-yard and mile-relay teams which established national high school records of 1:24.5 and 3:12.7 respectively.

After graduating high school in 1966, James entered Villanova University near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Ineligible to compete as a freshman, he debuted as a sophomore indoors at the 1968 Millrose Games in New York City s Madison Square Garden James won the 500 yard ...

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Adam R. Hornbuckle

was born on 26 August 1962 in Unadilla, Georgia, the third of Roy and Christine Kingdom’s six children. When his parents separated in the 1970s, Matt Wallace, Kingdom’s maternal grandfather, became his principal father figure. He and his siblings would spend as much time as possible on Wallace’s three-hundred-acre farm in Vienna, Georgia, where he raised peanuts, cotton, and watermelons. “Nothing but trees around and open fields,” remembered Kingdom, who would often “go out in the fields and run all the way to the woods and back. Most of the fields were freshly plowed, so it was like running in sand” (Sports Illustrated).

At Vienna High School Kingdom followed his older siblings into athletics His brother Roy had claimed a state high school championship in the 440 yard dash and competed in the shot put and discus throw and his sister Lorrye had claimed a state high school ...

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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

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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Donald Roe

Olympic champion, teacher, and track coach. When sixteen-year-old Wilma Rudolph stepped onto the track in Melbourne, Australia, to compete in the 1956 Olympic Games, one could not have imagined the impact she would have on women's athletics. The tall, thin, African American woman with the disarming smile was a member of the United States’ women's 400-meter relay team that finished third to win the bronze medal. Winning an Olympic medal was a special achievement for Rudolph, but it was only the beginning. In the years from 1956 to 1962, she would rise Phoenix-like from anonymity to become one of the greatest female athletes of the twentieth century.

Wilma Rudolph was an unlikely candidate for fame. Born in Saint Bethlehem, Tennessee, on 23 June 1940 to Ed and Blanche Rudolph young Wilma was just another child to feed in a family of twenty two siblings trapped ...

Article

Jamal Ratchford

track-and-field coach, was born Edward Stanley Temple in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the only child of Christopher Richard Temple and Ruth Naomi. He primarily was raised by his grandparents and as a child frequently attended a Baptist church, where he regularly found trouble. Temple's parents decided to enroll him in music, and he maintained this interest as an adolescent. In 1942 he entered John Harris High School in Harrisburg. As an all-state athlete in football, basketball, and track and field, Temple was eager to compete at the college level. He intended to attend college in Pennsylvania at Cheney State Teachers College, Westchester College, or Pennsylvania State University, but Tom Harris, the track-and-field coach at Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State College (Tennessee A&I; later Tennessee State University) in Nashville, had other plans. Harris, who also recruited Temple's rival Leroy Davis another track and field star at John Harris High ...

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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 ...