Black First of the Day

Black Firsts 3e
ISBN: 9781578593699
$34.95

Who was the first Black American athlete to win an Olympic gold medal?

  • He earned a degree in veterinary medicine from the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Before the win, he had held the world record in the 440-yard dash.
  • He died five months after winning the gold medal.
  • He won for the 4 x 400-meter relay race.


1908

John Baxter "Doc" Taylor Jr. (1882-1908)

John Baxter "Doc" Taylor Jr. (1882-1908), became the first black winner of a gold medal in the Olympics He won for the 4 x 400-meter relay in London. One of the first great black quarter-milers, Taylor was also the first black to win a gold medal as a United States team member. Taylor had been a college champion in his sport, held the world record in the 440-yard dash, and already had a degree in veterinary medicine from the University of Pennsylvania at the time of the Olympics. The path to his gold medal was filled with thorns. The 1908 Games featured much friction between the British and U.S. athletes, and the controversies reached a peak with the 400-meter race, in which Taylor was one of four finalists (three American and one British). The race was run twice, nullified the first time on the charge of an American foul by one of the U.S. runners (not Taylor). When it was rerun, the remaining two American finalists (including Taylor) boycotted the run. When Taylor had another chance to go for the gold, in the 1,600-meter medley, he ran the third leg, passed the baton on to the anchor runner with a fifteen-meter lead, and truly earned his gold medal. Taylor had a triumphant return to Philadelphia, but his days of glory were short. He died five months after winning the gold medal.

Sources: Ashe, A Hard Road to Glory, vol. 1, pp. 63-64, 65-66; Page, Black Olympian Medalists, pp. 111-12, 149; Young, Negro Firsts in Sports, pp. 83-84; American Vision 11 (June/July 1996): 20-23.

From Black Firsts: 4,000 Ground-Breaking and Pioneering Events by Jessie Carney Smith, © 2013 Visible Ink Press®. A celebration of achievement, accomplishments and pride.

< Previous Fact Next Fact >


Dig deeper with these related titles:

Black Firsts 3e Black Firsts: 4,000 Ground-Breaking and Pioneering Events, Third Edition
by Jessie Carney Smith, Ph.D.

Achievement engenders pride, and the most significant accomplishments involving people, places, and events in black history are gathered in Black... Read More »

ISBN: 9781578593699
$34.95
African American Almanac African American Almanac: 400 Years of Triumph, Courage and Excellence
by Lean'tin Bracks, PhD

A wealth of milestones, inspiration, and challenges met. . . The most complete and affordable single-volume reference of African... Read More »

ISBN: 9781578593231
$29.95
Freedom Facts and Firsts Freedom Facts and Firsts: 400 Years of the African American Civil Rights Experience
by Jessie Carney Smith, Ph.D. and Linda T Wynn

Spanning nearly 400 years from the early abolitionists to the present, this guide book profiles more than 400 people, places, and events that have... Read More »

ISBN: 9781578591923
$24.95
Black Heroes Black Heroes
by Jessie Carney Smith, Ph.D.

"If there is no struggle, there is no progress," wrote Frederick Douglass. "This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may... Read More »

ISBN: 9781578591367
$29.95