Book Review: Olympic Black Women (Martha Ward Plowden): AH | HistoryNet MENU

Book Review: Olympic Black Women (Martha Ward Plowden): AH

8/11/2001 • American History Reviews, Reviews

by Martha Ward Plowden (Pelican Publishing, 174 pages, $16.95). This comprehensive study celebrates the achievements of the black women who overcame discrimination to become members of the United States Olympic teams. Excluded by the ancient Greeks from taking part in Olympic competition, women finally got that right with the modern Olympics’ Paris Games of 1900. But it was not until 32 years later that the first African-American women were chosen for a U. S. squad. Among the 25 athletes whose stories Plowden tells here are Alice Coachman, who in the 1948 London Games became the first African-American woman to win an Olympic gold medal; Earlene Brown, recognized by many as one of the greatest athletes ever to qualify for the finals in the shot put; and Florence Griffith-Joyner, who in the Korean Games of 1988, became the first American woman to win four medals in a single Olympics.

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