Tommy smith and john carlos

African Americans in Sport

  • Jack Johnson

    Jack Johnson
    Jack Johnson was born in Galveston, Texas in 1878, both of his parents had been formerly enslaved. He was known for his distinct style of fighting. Although it had been previously forbidden for an African American to fight for the title of Heavyweight Champion of the world, in December of 1908, Jack Johnson won the title.He won it in a fight against the reigning world champion, Tommy Burns, with a knockout in the fourteenth round. Despite racial animosity, he held the title until April 5, 1915.
  • Fritz Pollard

    Fritz Pollard
    Fritz Pollard is from Chicago, Illinois. He attended Brown University, where in 1915 he became the first African American to play in the Rose Bowl. In 1922, he became the first African American NFL coach in history. He coached for Indiana and Milwaukee, until the NFL decided to segregate, at which time he was removed from his position. He fought for the NFL to integrate again for years, but retired from his football career in 1937. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.
  • Jesse Owens

    Jesse Owens
    Video: Jesse Owens: 1936 OlympicsJesse Owens was born in Oakville, Alabama. He was a track and field athlete and specialized in sprinting and the long jump. In the 1936 Summer Olympics, he won four gold medals. He one them in the 100 meter sprint, the 200 meter springs, the long jump, and as a part of the 4x100 meter relay team.
  • Jackie Robinson

    Jackie Robinson
    Video: Jackie Robinson: Breaking the Color Barrier
    Jackie Robinson was born in Cairo, Georgia in 1919. In April of 1947, Robinson became the African American Major League Baseball (MLB) player, breaking the color line. His MLB debut was for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He helped to end racial segregation in baseball. He went on to play in six World Series, helping the Brooklyn Dodgers to win in 1955.
  • Althea Gibson

    Althea Gibson
    Althea Gibson was born in Silver, South Carolina in 1927. In 1951 she became the first Afircan American to be invited to play at the all-England tournament at Wimbledon. In 1956 she won the French Open and in 1957 she won Wimbledon in singles and doubles. She went on to win several more championships as well as having a career in professional golf.
  • Wilma Rudolph

    Wilma Rudolph
    Video: Wilma Rudolph Wilma Rudolph caught polio at a young age. She eventually recovered and began playing basketball in high school. She was recruited by the Tennessee State Tigerbells for track and field. In the 1960 Summer Olympics, she became the first woman to win three gold medals in track and field during a single Olympic Games. She won a gold in the 100 meter sprints, the 200 meter sprint, and the 4 x 100 meter relay sprint.
  • Ernie Davis

    Ernie Davis
    Ernie Davis, born in Salem, Pennsylvania, was a halfback that played football for Syracuse University. In 1959, Davis aided in his team winning the National Championship after an undefeated season. 1961, Ernie Davis became the first African American to ever win the Heisman Trophy. Following his graduation from Syracuse, Davis was signed by the Cleveland Browns. Shortly after, he passed away from leukemia at the young age of twenty-three. Davis never got to play a professional game.
  • Tommie Smith and John Carlos

    Tommie Smith and John Carlos
    On October 16, 1968, U.S. African American athlete, Tommie Smith won the 200 meter race, setting a world-record time fo 19.83 seconds. His teammate, African American athlete, John Carlos placed third with a time of 20.10 seconds. During the medal ceremony, Smith and Carlos both bowed their heads and gave a Black Power salute. Smith later claimed that it was a "human rights salute."
  • James Harris

    James Harris
    James Harris is from Monroe, Louisiana. He attended Grambling State University where he played college football. Harris became the first African American starting quarterback in the NFL. He first played for the Buffalo Bills, starting for the first time in 1971. He went on to play for the Los Angeles Rams and the San Diego Chargers.
  • Sheryl Swoopes

    Sheryl Swoopes
    Sheryl Swoopes was born in Brownfield, Texas. She played basketball for Texas Tech University, where she helped them to win the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship in 1993. Swoopes was the first woman to be signed to the WNBA in the fall of 1996. She played for the Houston Comets in 1997. She has also won three Olympic Gold Medals.