5 things you need to know about Alice Coachman, first black woman to win Olympic gold at 24

Theodora Aidoo Jul 31, 2020 at 02:00pm

July 31, 2020 at 02:00 pm | History, Women

Theodora Aidoo

Theodora Aidoo | Staff Writer

July 31, 2020 at 02:00 pm | History, Women

Pic Credit: olympic.org

Prejudice

“We had segregation, but it wasn’t any problem for me because I had won,” she told The Telegraph. “That was up to them, whether they accepted it or not.”

A parade was thrown in honor of Coachman’s historic achievement at the XIV Olympiad when she returned home. “I made a difference among the blacks, being one of the leaders,” Coachman said in a 1996 interview with The New York Times. “If I had gone to the games and failed, there wouldn’t be anyone to follow in my footsteps. It encouraged the rest of the women to work harder and fight harder.”

Even though Coachman’s victory was celebrated with invitations to come aboard a British royal yacht and President Harry S. Truman congratulated her at the White House, racism was very evident on the day of her parade and celebration in her hometown.

During the celebration, Blacks and Whites were not allowed to sit next to each other in the Albany city auditorium. In fact, according to reports, while the mayor sat on the same stage with Coachman, he refused to shake her hand, and she exited through a side door at the conclusion of the event.

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