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Black History Month, or African-American History Month, serves as a reminder of the struggles and achievements of our black heroes. Moreover, the contributions of our African-Americans to the rich and beautiful American history cannot be ignored.

We W.I.L.L. Thru Sports believes that these contributions need to not only be remembered but also cherished. Hence, We W.I.L.L. Thru Sports remembers our brave and brilliant African-Americans who have paved the way for America’s success and added to its rich history over the years.    

Therefore, in this blog, we will be talking about the history of Black History Month. In addition to this, we will also be talking about the athletes who contributed to this history and the ones who continue to make history even today!  

The History of Black History Month   

Black History Month, also known as the African-American History Month, succeeded the Negro History Week in 1926. The credit for this historical achievement mainly goes to Mr. Carter G. Woodson and several other prominent African-Americans of that time.   

Black History has been a major part of American history for centuries. However, it has only been recognized officially since the 20th century. In addition to this, the 38th President of America, Gerald Ford, wanted to honor the Black Americans. Otherwise, they would never have been recognized for their accomplishments.     

African-American Athletes  

From baseball, basketball, tennis, and golf to track and field, ballet, boxing, gymnastics, sailing, and whatnot! These smart and exceptional athletes have left no stones unturned to make us feel proud. 

Consequently, over the years, more and more African-Americans have broken the racial and cultural barriers. In addition to this, Black History Month celebrations have helped our African-American heroes get the recognition they always deserved but never received.  

African-American Athletes Throughout History

Now, let’s take a look at some of the best athletes throughout history who topped the charts in their respective fields.  

1900-1949

  1. 1908 – John Taylor was 1st African-American to win an Olympic gold medal in track and field.
      
  2. 1908 – Jack Johnson: Similarly, John Johnson was the 1st African-American World Heavyweight Boxing Champion.
     
  3. 1936 – Jesse Owens: The 1st track and field athlete to win 4 Olympic gold medals in one Olympic year! 
      
  4. 1946 – Jackie Robinson: The 1st African-American to play for Major League Baseball and then, the first to be inducted into the Hall of fame in 1962. 
      
  5. 1948 – Alice Coachman: The 1st African-American woman to win an Olympic gold medal.  

1950 – 1980 

  1. 1950’s – Nat Clifton, who played on the New York Knicks; Charles Cooper of the Boston Celtics; and Earl Lloyd of the Washington Capitols became the 1st African-American NBA basketball players.
     
  2. 1956-1958 – Althea Gibson: The 1st African-American tennis player to win the French, Wimbledon, and U. S. Open Singles Championships.
  3.  1960 – Wilma Rudolph: The 1st American woman to win three gold medals in a single Olympics year!
     
  4. 1961 – Charlie Sifford: 1st African-American to be a part of the PGA Tour
     
  5. 1970 – Will Robinson became the 1st African-American NCAA Division I basketball coach.

1981 – Present 

  1. 1983 – Dianne Durham: The 1st to win the US National title for gymnastics and 3 out of 4 possible gold medals.  
     
  2. 1992 – William “Bill” Pinkney is the 1st African-American to navigate a sailboat around the world. Pinkney wrote a first-grade textbook, “Captain Bill Pinkney’s Journey”, which appeared in more than 5,000 schools across the country.
     
  3. 2012 – Gabby Douglas: The 1st African-American gymnast to win both individual and all-around gold medals.
     
  4. 2015 – Misty Copeland: The 1st African-American woman to be promoted to principal dancer in American Ballet Theatre (ABT).
     
  5. 2013-2019 – Simone Biles became the most decorated gymnast in the world. 

 African-American Social Activists

Moreover, many African-Americans have followed in the footsteps of their predecessors. They have raised their voices for justice, equality, and freedom. Therefore, these are the people constantly trying to make this world a better place to live in.

As a result of their efforts, the chains of stereotypes and racial or cultural bias have started to break. Three of these revolutionary African-American social activists are: 

  • Serena Williams continues to use her fame to positively influence young women athletes. 
  • Colin Kaepernick, former NFL quarterback who is now an American Civil Rights Activist. Consequently, he is a strong supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Furthermore, LeBron James has become an integral voice for social justice using his position in the NBA to bring change. 

Conclusion

African-Americans of all backgrounds have contributed to the beautiful black history in our country. This further strengthens the hopes held by We W.I.L.L. Thru Sports for a better and brighter America.  

We W.I.L.L. Thru Sports’ Hopes for the Future

We W.I.L.L. Thru Sports believes that the efforts of our African-American heroes will not go in vain. One day, the chains of racism and inequality wrapped around our feet will crumble to dust.

And hence, that’s the day we will truly be free. We W.I.L.L. Thru Sports thanks all the athlete for making a difference and being the guiding light for our youth!