August 11, 2012
African American women first qualified for Olympic competition in 1932.
In 1929, Tuskegee Institute in Alabama organized one of the nation's first female track and field teams and campaigned for the inclusion of its black athletes in Olympic competition, starting with the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
In both the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, the two Tuskegee track stars, Louise Stokes and Tydie Pickett, earned their places on the U.S. Olympic track and field team. In both Games, 1932 and 1936, U.S. Olympic officials replaced Louise Stokes and Tydie Pickett at the last minute with white team members they had previously defeated.
Because the world was involved in World War II, the Olympic Games were cancelled in 1940 and 1944. The next Games were held in 1948 in London, in which African American women track and field stars set records and won medals. Since 1948, African American female Olympians--from Alice Coachman, the first African American female gold medal winner to Gabby Douglas, most recent of the African American female gold medal winners--have been making Olympic history and showing the world who they were.