The original essays in this comprehensive collection examine the lives and sports of famous and not-so-famous African American men and women athletes from the 19th century to today.
Here are 20 insightful biographies that furnish perspectives on the changing status of these athletes and how the changes mirrored the transformation of sports, American society and civil rights legislation.
"Out of the Shadows" shows us athletes struggling to make it in a Jim Crow society — Jimmy Winkfield in horse racing, Marshall Taylor in bicycling, William Henry Lewis in football, and Jack Johnson — and those achieving success on an international stage while suffering segregation at home — Ora Washington (tennis), Satchel Paige, Jesse Owens, Joe Louis, Alice Coachman (track and field), and Jackie Robinson.
In the 20th century athletes saw opportunities to fight for civil rights through their performances. This was the case with Althea Gibson (tennis), Wilma Rudolph, Bill Russell, Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali, and Arthur Ashe. Today's successful African American athletes, such as Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Venus and Serena Williams, deal with issues of race and celebrity culture.