Black History: Special Delivery!!
Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) has the distinction of having one of the first women’s track teams in the United States. The team was started in 1929. 3 years later, two African American women, Louise Stokes (1913-1978) and Tidye Pickett (1914-1986) qualified for the 1932 Olympics in track and field. (Neither Stokes nor Pickett attended Tuskegee). They traveled to the Olympics with the team but were not allowed to compete because of their race. Replaced by 2 white teammates, Pickett and Stokes watched from the stands as their team competed.
When the team celebrated its victory with a banquet, Pickett and Stokes were served dinner in their room and were not allowed to attend the celebration. Neither Stokes nor Pickett were members of well known college track teams such as Tuskegee University or Tennessee State University. This could be why their accomplishments were not widely recognized. Stokes would go on to become a professional bowler and also started the Colored Women’s Bowling League in 1941. Pickett would go on to a successful career as a teacher and school principal in Illinois. Both are now deceased. Pickett died in 1986 and Stokes died in 1978.
Alice Coachman became the first African American woman to win a gold medal in the Olympics in 1948 which was held in London. Coachman would likely have also competed in the 1940 and 1944 Olympics. However, they were cancelled due to World War II.