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Steven B. Jacobson and William A. Jacobson

sprinter, was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, the eldest of five children of Samuel Ashford, a non-commissioned U.S. Air Force officer, and Vietta Ashford, a homemaker. Because of her father's service assignments, the family lived a nomadic lifestyle before settling in Roseville, California, where Ashford was the only girl on Roseville High's boys track team. She earned her spot by beating the school's fastest boys. Ashford's precocious world-class speed was obvious by her senior year, when she recorded times of 11.5 and 24.2 seconds, respectively, in the 100 and 200 meter dashes.

Ashford entered UCLA in September 1975 with an athletic scholarship. She soon qualified for the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada, and there, at nineteen, she qualified for the finals and was the top U.S. finisher in the 100 meters, finishing fifth in 11.24 seconds. Ashford was a collegiate all-American in 1977 and 1978 She ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

Honored in 1979 and 1981 as Woman Athlete of the Year, Evelyn Ashford was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. She grew up in Roseville, California, where her high school invited her to join its all-male track-and-field team after she outran some of the male athletes. Ashford then attended the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) on an athletic scholarship. During her college years, from 1975 through 1978, she trained as a sprinter, a fast runner over short distances. She won four national collegiate running championships and also competed in her first Olymic Games, held in Montreal, Canada, in 1976.

In 1978 Ashford became a fulltime athlete, winning World Cup titles in the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints the following year. She could not compete in the 1980 Olympics which were held in Russia then the Soviet Union because the United States decided to boycott the games that ...

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Adam R. Hornbuckle

was born in Bay City Texas Raised in Van Vleck Texas he was the youngest of ten children of a single mother Ernestine Austin who worked as a maid Charles Austin who played football and basketball in elementary school competed in track and field at Hitchcock Junior High School concentrating on the high hurdles and the high jump Undefeated in the high jump as an eighth grader he achieved a personal best height of 5 feet 10 inches 1 77 meters Although Austin played football and basketball at Van Vleck High School track and field remained his remained his favorite sport which he watched on television at every opportunity In his senior year he wanted to compete in track and field again specializing in the high jump in the hope of gaining a scholarship to attend college The coach told Austin that he would have to clear 6 feet 1 ...

Article

Hasaan A. Kirkland

football player and painter, was born Ernest Eugene Barnes Jr. in Durham, North Carolina, the son of Ernest Barnes Sr., a tobacco worker, and Fannie Mae Geer, who worked for a local legal official. On occasion Barnes talked with Mr. Fuller, his mother's employer, and from him learned about culture, art, and classical music.

Before the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 it was uncommon for African Americans in North Carolina to have access to museums or other sources of information about ancient or world cultures Segregation and racial inequalities in schools and other public institutions deprived most back children of avenues for artistic pursuits Despite such constraints Barnes s mother exposed her son to as much culture and art as she could he studied dance and horn and percussion instruments as well as the visual arts By the time ...

Article

Richard Sobel

track-and-field athlete, motivational speaker, and activist for youth, was born Robert Alfred Beamon in Jamaica, New York, to Naomi Brown Beamon and a father he never met. After his mother died from tuberculosis before Beamon's first birthday, his stepfather, James, assumed parental responsibility for Robert and his older, disabled brother Andrew. Robert's grandmother, Bessie Beamon, ultimately took over their care as a result of James's inadequate parenting skills. Rarely supervised, Beamon ran away from home when he was fourteen and joined a gang. When he struck a teacher who had attempted to break up one of Beamon's fights, he was expelled and charged with assault and battery.

Beamon's life might have become a tragedy if it weren't for a judge who was “thoughtful, compassionate, and obviously interested in helping kids” (Second Chances 3 The judge took a chance and allowed Beamon to attend an alternative school in ...

Article

Adam R. Hornbuckle

track and field athlete and professional football and baseball player was born Edward Solomon Butler on 3 March 1895, in Kingfisher, Oklahoma. Sol Butler was the youngest of three known children of Ben and Mary Butler. His father, born a slave in Georgia in 1842, took the last name of Butler after a Union officer with whom he served in the Civil War. His mother, originally from Georgia, was born a freewoman in 1867. The Butlers, as did many African Americans in the late nineteenth century, moved to the nation's Midwest to escape the rise of racial discrimination and violence in the South following the end of Reconstruction in 1877. After a brief period in the Oklahoma territory, the Butlers moved to Wichita, Kansas in 1904, before finally settling in Hutchinson, Kansas in 1909.

In Hutchinson Butler began to participate in football and track ...

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 ...

Article

Adam R. Hornbuckle

was born in Austin, Texas, the oldest of two sons of Greg Clay, an African American, and Michele Ishimoto, a Japanese-born immigrant to the United States. After Clay’s parents divorced when he was in elementary school, his mother moved Bryan and his brother, Nicolas, to Kaneohi, Hawaii, where she had family. At James B. Casile High School in Kaneohi, Clay joined the track and field team and became very skilled at a range of events.

After graduating high school in 1998, Clay enrolled at Azusa Pacific University, an evangelical Christian school, near Los Angeles, California. In 1999 he finished second in the 55 meters third in the long jump and fifth in the 55 meter high hurdles at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics NAIA Indoor Championships That year Clay began competing in the decathlon a ten event competition held over two days consisting of the 100 meters ...

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Leslie Heywood

track-and-field athlete, was the fifth of ten children born to Fred “Doc” and Evelyn Coachman in Albany, Georgia. She was primarily raised by her great-grandmother and maternal grandmother and endured the difficulties of impoverishment. As a child, she participated in music and dance and was active in sports. Like many other African American women, she competed in basketball and track in junior high, where she came to the attention of Coach Henry E. Lash at Madison High School.

It was at this point that Coachman made a leap and became part of what was fast becoming a track-and-field dynasty when she transferred to the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama, where she was trained by the renowned coach Cleveland Abbott. Founded by Booker T. Washington in 1881 as a teacher s college Tuskegee was one of the first black institutions to embrace women s athletics and Abbott s team ...

Article

Hilary Mac Austin

Today, when black women dominate track-and-field events, it is difficult to remember that the first Olympic medal won by an African American woman was not awarded until after World War II. The first gold medal was won at the same Olympics; that medal went to Alice Coachman, a legendary high jumper from Tuskegee Institute.

Coachman was born (some sources say 1921 or 1922) near Albany, Georgia. She was one of ten children of Fred and Evelyn Coachman, who worked most days picking cotton. Sometimes her father traveled to Ohio to work as a plasterer, and sometimes her mother cleaned the houses of white families, but usually the entire family worked in the fields at nearby plantations.

Coachman started her jumping career on the red clay roads of Georgia The children would tie rags together and appoint one child to hold each end of the homemade rope Then they ...

Article

Paul T. Murray

long-distance runner and physical therapist, was born Theodore Corbitt near Dunbarton, South Carolina, to John Henry Corbitt, a farmer and railroad worker, and Alma Bing Corbitt, a seamstress and union official. Though small in stature, the young Corbitt helped on the family farm, plowing and picking crops, forging a work ethic that would become the trademark of his athletic career. While white children rode the bus, Corbitt walked the dusty roads back and forth to school. At age nine his family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he won his first races in school competitions. He graduated from Cincinnati's Woodward High School in 1938 and enrolled in University of Cincinnati that fall. There he joined the track and cross-country teams, trying every running event from 100 yards to two miles. He graduated in 1942 with a degree in Education Corbitt was drafted into the U S Army and ...

Article

Adam R. Hornbuckle

Born in Troy, Alabama, Willie D. Davenport was educated at Southern University. His specialty was the indoor 60-yard high hurdles race, which is not an Olympic event. In the 60-yard hurdles, he won the United States national title five times (1966, 1967, 1969–1971).

Davenport also attained success in the outdoor high hurdles event, which in the United States at that time was either 110 m or 120 yards, depending on the year. At the 1964 U.S. Olympic trials, Davenport, then a United States Army private, was the unexpected winner in the 110-meter hurdles race. Hampered by a thigh injury, he failed to qualify for the finals at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Davenport won the 120-yard hurdles event at the U.S. national track-and-field championships the next three years (1965–1967 and he earned a gold medal in the 110 meter hurdles at ...

Article

Adam W. Green

was the second child born to John Davis and Mary Alice Davis in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. After his older brother died of diphtheria, Davis was raised by his maternal grandmother, Carrie Faton, and aunt Matilda Daniel. Davis found sports as a means of rescue from the cruelty of the Jim Crow South, where he wasn’t allowed to attend the regular movie theater, and where he witnessed Ku Klux Klan marches and cross-burnings while still a child.

Despite living two blocks from Tuscaloosa High School for whites only, segregation forced Davis to cross the tracks to go to the all-black Industrial High School (later Druid). He played basketball and football at Druid, and after graduating in 1950 volunteered for the Air Force where he served four years Stationed in England Davis began training more seriously at the gym gaining weight and athletic skill he became a first string player for the ...

Article

Sibyl Collins Wilson

track-and-field sprinter and hurdler, philanthropist, and health advocate, was born Yolanda Gail Devers in Seattle, Washington, to Adele Devers, a teacher's aide, and Larry Devers, a Baptist minister. While she was still young, the family relocated to National City, a suburb of San Diego, California. As a young girl she used to bite her nails, prompting her father to issue a challenge encouraging her not to perpetuate that habit. This resulted in her growing her nails, which ultimately became so long that they became her signature style. Devers would later alter her starting position at track meets to accommodate her long nails.

Motivated by competition with her brother Parenthesis also known as P D Devers developed an interest in running P D would dare her to race and then tease her after each loss which pushed her to develop the drive to eventually beat him It was ...

Article

Monique M. Chism

Named the “World’s Fastest Woman” after winning the gold medal for the 100-meter dash at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, Gail Yolanda Devers endlessly proved she was a super athlete who overcame a number of hurdles throughout her life.

Daughter of the Reverend Larry Devers, a Baptist minister, and Alabe Devers, a teacher’s aide, she was born in Seattle, Washington. The family eventually settled in National City, California, a small town near San Diego. Devers’s interest in running began when she was a little girl, fueled in part by her desire to beat her brother, Parenthesis, in races. Her enthusiasm for the sport and commitment to self-improvement continued through high school, where she won numerous awards. Upon graduation, she decided to attend the University of California, Los Angeles, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology. At UCLA, under the tutelage of coach Bob Kersee ...

Article

Adam R. Hornbuckle

track and field athlete, was born in Lexington, Virginia, the son of David Henry Drew and May E. Mackey. At age twenty-one, after working for several years in a railroad depot, he entered high school in Springfield, Massachusetts. By the time Drew entered high school he ranked high among the nation's best sprinters. In 1910 and 1911 he won both the 100- and 220-yard dashes at the junior Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) track and field championships. Drew's best times as a junior were 10.0 seconds for 100 yards and 21.8 seconds for 220 yards.

In 1912 Drew competed in the senior AAU track and field championships and captured the one-hundred-yard dash in ten seconds flat. In the 1912 U S Olympic trials the Springfield High School sophomore defeated the nation s top collegiate sprinter Ralph Craig of the University of Michigan in the one hundred meters After ...

Article

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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Richard Sobel

first African American Ivy League head coach, 1984 U.S. Olympic men's track-and-field team head coach, and president of USA Track & Field from 1992 to 1996, was born Lawrence Thomas Ellis in Englewood, New Jersey. With two older sisters, Virginia Robinson and Theresa Brisbane, Ellis grew up in the Bronx in New York City, on a street known for its gangs. His parents, Henry Ellis, a tailor, and Anna Wright Hart, a Macy's saleswoman and a child's nurse, separated during his youth and Ellis worked part-time jobs in order to help make ends meet. Ellis's mother and the late Rev. Edler Hawkins, a Presbyterian minister, were positive influences in his younger years. “Basically, I was a good kid,” he explained. “I joined the Boy Scouts. I played ball in the street, touch football (Alfano, New York Times, Apr. 1984 section 5 1 For ...

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SaFiya D. Hoskins

athlete, Olympic medalist, was born Aeriwentha Mae Faggs in Mays Landing, New Jersey, the second of five children and the only daughter of William and Hepsi Faggs. Her father was a factory worker; her mother was employed in a musical instrument plant making needles, she also worked as a domestic. Faggs was in elementary school when began running track and continued to run as a student at Bayside High School in Bayside, Long Island. In 1947, at age fifteen, she became a member of the Police Athletic League (PAL) girl's track team from the 11th Precinct in Bayside, Long Island. The same year, Faggs joined the newly formed Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) in Bayside, created for exceptional runners from all over the city by Sergeant John Brennan who became her coach and mentor During her tenure with AAU her strength and speed grew and she ...

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Antje Daub

athlete, scholar, soldier, and judge, was born in Jacksonville, Florida, one of nine children of Walter Holmes Gourdin, a meat cutter and part Seminole Indian, and Felicia Nee, an African American woman who was a housekeeper. Little is known about his early school career, other than that he was valedictorian of his high school class in 1916. Although poor, Gourdin's parents recognized their son's talents and educational potential and, following his high school graduation, moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to further his career. There, Gourdin attended Cambridge High and Latin, which helped prepare him for the high academic demands of an Ivy League education.

By the time he enrolled in his freshman year at Harvard in 1917 Gourdin appears to have been a conscientious and responsible student To pay tuition he supported himself by working as a postal clerk He also became a ...