Some people may not know the inspiring story of Althea Gibson, who would in 1957, become the first African-American (man or woman) tennis player to win the Wimbledon Tennis Championship, but those that have heard her heroic story, know that it is one you will never forget. Wilma Rudolph was a proud champion, who in the 1960 Olympics Games, became the first American woman to capture three track & field gold medals, and claimed the title of the world’s fastest woman. Langston was a great poet, who had several books of poetry published, and also, won several awards for his poetry. All three of these great figures in history inspire so many people, and illustrate how hard-work and dedication can get you very far in life.
Althea Gibson was no doubt an excellent tennis player, and she was while growing-up, things were not always easy. She battled many odds that were put against her, but she still overcame those odds greatness. As a child, her family was on welfare, and she would frequently miss school because of different issues. On several occasions, she would even run away from home, and even through all this adversity, she still found time to play paddle tennis at a nearby recreation center, and this is where her talent for tennis was first noticed.
In the 1930’s, Buddy Walker was a well-known musician, and he was one of the first people to notice Gibson’s talent with paddle tennis. He thought Gibson was so talented with paddle tennis, so he introduced her to Dr. Walter Johnson, who was very active in the black community with tennis. Dr. Johnson was a local physician, but he still found time to be involved in the tennis community, and he would occasionally give Gibson tennis lessons.
Through charity and donations, the youthful Gibson would eventually become a member of the Harlem Cosmopolitan Tennis Club, which was a club strictly for African-Americans. As a member of the tennis club, Gibson flourished as a player. In 1942, Gibson’s strong determination would soon lead her into winning the girls’ singles title at the American Tennis Association’s New York State Tournament. She would repeat again as champion in 1944 and ’45. In 1946, with the support of sponsors, Gibson moved to Wilmington, NC for tennis training, and in 1947, at the age of 20, she would win the first of 10 consecutive national championships sponsored by the American Tennis Association (ATA).
In 1951, at the age of 23, Gibson made her first appearance at the British Championships in London, England, also known as Wimbledon. Her journey from the cruel streets of Harlem, NY, to the royal courts of Wimbledon illustrates her strong desire to never lose hope, and along with playing tennis, Gibson still stayed active in her studies at Florida A&M University (FAMU). In 1953, Gibson graduated from FAMU, and later moved to Jefferson City, Missouri, and worked as an athletic instructor at Lincoln University.
In 1957, Gibson won the women’s singles and doubles championship at Wimbledon, therefore making her the first African-American to ever achieve such a feat, and in recognition of her achievement -and for being African-American – the city of New York welcomed her home with a parade. In 1958, she would again win both the singles and doubles title at Wimbledon. Later that year, Gibson would have an autobiography published in her honor. The autobiography was titled “I Always Wanted to Be Somebody,” and it described her childhood dreams in Harlem, and her aspirations on the tennis court. Gibson received many honors for her commitment to tennis.
In the 1970’s, Gibson served in various national and New Jersey positions in tennis and recreation, therefore receiving many honors for her commitment. In 1971, she was inducted into the National Lawn Tennis Hall of Fame, and in the same year, she was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. In 1974, she was inducted into the Black Athletes Hall of Fame, and in 1983, she was inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame. In 1984, she was inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame, so Gibson indeed has a lot to show for her commitment to the game of tennis. Gibson is an excellent person for anyone to read about because she has overcome so much in her lifetime, and has fulfilled so many dreams
As many people already know, Wilma Rudolph was great sprinter, who defeated many odds. Many odds that said she would never be able to compete in the Olympics as a sprinter. Many odds that said she would never be able to even run track because of her disability. As a child, Wilma battled scarlet fever, double-pneumonia and was unable to walk without wearing leg braces. To help Wilma deal with her disability issue, different people in her family would take turns administering leg massages, and the leg massages conditioned her legs enough for her to be able to walk by age 11 with specially made shoes. Wilma would eventually outgrow the need to walk with assistance of her specially made shoes, and would be able to walk normally.
Rudolph began her track- and- field legacy as a sophomore in high-school. While in high-school, she was a undefeated sprinter in each of her track meets. In 1957, she attended Tennessee State University, and while attending TSU, she broke many records as a sprinter, gained national attention. In the 1960 Olympics, Rudolph tied the 100-meter dash world record of 11.3 seconds.
She also set an Olympic record in the 200-meter dash. She would even set a world record as anchor for the 400-meter relay team. In 1960, Rudolph was named U.S. Female Athlete of the Year, and won United Press Athlete of the Year honors. Rudolph’s remarkable story of overcoming the odds is definitely one to admire, because as a child, she faced three problems, but still had the will power to accomplish great feats, that will forever be known in history.
Langston Hughes is undeniably one of the most prominent African American writers of the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance was a cultural movement where African American arts flourished and inspired so many people. Hughes wrote so much influential literature in that day and age. In fact, some of the literature he wrote in the Harlem Renaissance is still read today.
The Renaissance took place in the 1920’s, and the early 30’s. In 1925, Hughes won a poetry contest with Opportunity magazine, which was a local magazine in the Harlem area. A year later, his first book “The Weary Blues” was published. Hughes then had a host of other publications in the late 20’s and early 30’s. Aside from Hughes’ publications, the Renaissance gave new life to the Harlem city because a variety of others writers wrote great pieces of literature.
Writers like Claude McKay, Countee Cullen, and a host of other writers, but Hughes had a special gift with his literature. To so many people, he was considered a “literary genius.” He sometimes wrote literature, that inspired others blacks to never lose hope for a better future. During this time, racial prejudice and lynching were at an all-time high.
Aside from all this hysteria, that was taking place during the Renaissance, Hughes kept writing brilliant pieces of literature, and his remarkable literature can still be read today.
All three of the stories relate because they all illustrate how dedication and hard-work can give you the strength to achieve success. All three of the stories also exemplify how if a person devotes themselves to one particular thing, they can overcome many goals. Every reader of this article should believe that they have the mind and body to conquer any challenge they may face. Always believe in yourself.