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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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Alonford James Robinson

Foot racing was a common feature of early American slave society. In the narratives of former slaves foot racing is recounted as a popular sport on southern plantations. In one such narrative, former slave Frederick Douglass described the popularity of sports such as Boxing, wrestling, and foot racing in his autobiography, The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881; revised 1892).

Since most sporting competitions during slavery were segregated, the opportunities for blacks to compete against whites in foot races were limited. However, in the 1830s the Highland Games—organized by Scottish American civic groups—and colored branches of the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) featured inter-racial and inter-ethnic competition. Foot racing and fast walking (pedestrianism) were among the events in which African American athletes excelled.

In the latter half of the nineteenth century the performance of African American short and long distance runners were celebrated moments. Francis ...