August 12, 2012
The first two black female Olympic qualifiers for the United States were Louise Stokes and Tydie Pickett in track and field in 1932.
The 1932 track and field qualifiers, Louise Stokes and Tydie Pickett, were trained at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama after Tuskegee organized one of the nation's first female track and field teams in 1929. Tuskegee campaigned for the inclusion of its black athletes in the Olympic Games, starting with the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1932. Although, Stokes and Pickett qualified by defeating other members of their team, U.S. Olympic officials replaced Stokes and Pickett at the last minute with white team members they had previously defeated. Again, in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, U.S. Olympic officials replaced Stokes and Pickett at the last minute with white team members they had defeated in qualifying races.
U.S. politics, Jim Crow laws and racist policies played as significant a role as foreign influences in both the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. In 1936, some observers blamed the German government for forcing a change in the line-up of the U.S. women's team because of the German leadership's attitude toward non-Aryans. This policy against non-Aryans may have caused the Americans to remove Louise Stokes and Tydie Pickett from the line-up.
The Olympic Games were cancelled in 1940 and 1944 Because the world's involvement in World War II. The next Games were held in 1948 in London, in which African American female track and field stars, Audrey Patterson of Tennessee State won a bronze medal for the 200-meter dash, the first time the 200-meter race was included for female competitors; and Alice Coachman of Tuskegee Institute won a gold medal for the high jump.
Since 1948, African American female Olympians have been making Olympic history and showing the world who they are.