First African-American Woman To Win Olympic Gold, Alice Coachman talks about her record-breaking gold medal win in 1948, when she became the first African-American woman to win Olympic gold.
records are being broken nearly every day here in london , but there are some titles that can never be beaten. i was lucky enough to sit down with alice coachman that not only broke records in the high jump but holds the distinction of being the first african- american woman to ever take home a gold medal . she did it right here in london 64 years ago. it is an im probable journey alice dreams about but it was her own.
did you ever dream about going to the olympics.
i didn’t know what the olympics was. i never dreamed i would be here today.
at the 1948 summer games in london , alice became the first black woman to ever win olympic gold . her life forever changed in an instant. long before london , alice was one of ten children growing up in albany, georgia. although poor, she and her siblings found ways to have fun.
the road we just tied together and made our own high jump poles.
did your father approve?
no. he said sit on the porch and act like a lady. i couldn’t do that.
even though her father disapproved, alice continued to hone her high jumping skills despite many obstacles facing her, segregation and poverty.
you trained yourself in a way with just rags, no shoes even, growing up in the segregated south. do you think that made you a better athlete?
i don’t know, maybe the boys made me a better one. they were going to beat me, and i wasn’t going to let the boys beat me.
she never did. her talent so impressive she was recruited to the prestigious tuskegee institute where alice received her first pair of shoes. she would go on to win 25 national championship titles. the second world war forced two summer olympics to be canceled while alice was at her peak. she would finally get her shot at the 1948 games in london .
here i am, a black woman from the deep south , georgia peach, born here, to represent the united states of america .
did you see yourself as a black athlete?
no matter where you are, who you are, you’re a teammate. not only because i’m alice and i’m black. you went to win as a team.
and win she did, all on her own. she earned a gold in the high jump . we watched that moment together.
do you remember clearing that high bar at 5’6″, even a little more than that, i believe?
did you know you won?
the honor alice said she fully grasped.
when you see that flag go up and they are playing the national anthem , it does something to your heart. you just pound inside with joy.
you said your father disapproved of you doing these kinds of things early on. did he end up approving in the end.
he loved it. he had me walking down the street. this is my daughter. this is my daughter. she’s the one that won the gold medal .
well, alice ‘s high jump also broke the olympic record that year. it was a mark that stood for eight years. she retired after the 1948 games to teach and coach young people . although she couldn’t make it to london , she told me she would be watching and she hoped our athletes would do their very best and they certainly are.