Sports Moments in Black History
February is Black History Month so Kidzworld is saluting some of America's greatest athletes. Read on to find out about Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens and other African American sports pioneers.
Black History - Jesse Owens
Jesse Owens became an American hero after an amazing performance at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany. At the time, Germany was ruled by Adolph Hitler who absurdly believed that blacks, Asians and other races were inferior to whites. Jessie proved how wrong Hitler's racist ideas were by winning the gold medal in the long jump, the 100-meter dash and the 200-meter dash. He took home a fourth gold medal by running the opening leg for the US team that won the 4x100-meter relay. Jesse was nicknamed the World's Fastest Man and, in 1976, he was awarded the Medal of Freedom - the highest award a US citizen can receive.
Black History - Jackie Robinson
Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play major league baseball. Jackie was a star in the Negro Leagues but wasn't allowed to play in major league baseball because he was black. He finally got his chance when he was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1945. On April 15, 1947, he played his first major league game as the Dogers' first baseman. Many people booed and jeered Jackie when he took the field but by the end of the season, he won many of them over with his play on the field. He batted .297, led the league in stolen bases and was named the National League Rookie of the Year. More importantly, he broke baseball's color barrier and opened the door for other black athletes to participate in professional sports.
Black History - Althea Gibson
Long before Serena and Venus Williams were dominating women's tennis, there was Althea Gibson. In 1950, Althea became the first black woman to play at the US Nationals. She advanced to the second round of the tournament and showed many ignorant tennis fans that African Americans belonged on the tennis court. In 1957, she won the US Nationals and Wimbledon, and was welcomed home with a ticker tape parade in New York.
Black History - Willie O'Ree
Willie O'Ree made history when he stepped on the ice to play for the Boston Bruins on January 18, 1958. Willie was the first African American to play in the National Hockey League. He only played two seasons for the Bruins, because of an eye injury, but he opened the door for many other African Americans to skate in the NHL, including [kwlink]All-Star[/kwlink] Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames.
Black History - Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali called himself The Greatest and he lived up to that name by being the first boxer to win the heavyweight title three times. Ali won his first title as Cassius Clay (his birth name) in 1964 by defeating Sonny Liston. Shortly after the fight, he became a Muslim and changed his name to Muhammad Ali because he believed that Cassius Clay was his "slave name." Ali was stripped of his title in 1967 for refusing to join the US Army because of his religious beliefs. He regained the title in 1974 by defeating George Foreman in Zaire in the famous Rumble in the Jungle. He snagged the title again in '78 after defeating Leon Spinks. He retired in 1981 and now raises money and awareness for Parkinson's Disease, which he suffers from.
Black History - Vonetta Flowers
Vonetta Flowers - the former track star turned Olympic bobsledder - made history at the 2002 Winter Olympics by becoming the first black athlete to win a gold medal at a Winter Olympics. Vonetta's gold medal will hopefully inspire future black athletes to become more involved in winter sports.
Have Your Say
Did we miss anyone? Let us know who we should add to the list!