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Passing the BatonBlack Women Track Stars and American Identity$
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Cat M. Ariail

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043482

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043482.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 30 November 2021

Raising the Bar

Raising the Bar

Alice Coachman and the Boundaries of Postwar American Identity, 1946–1948

Chapter:
(p.12) 1 Raising the Bar
Source:
Passing the Baton
Author(s):

Cat M. Ariail

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5622/illinois/9780252043482.003.0002

This chapter chronicles the international athletic experiences of Alice Coachman, the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal, examining how her successes, especially at the 1948 Olympic Games, challenged the ideal image of American athleticism and, in turn, American identity. The relative invisibility of Coachman in the white sporting press indicates that she raised uncomfortable questions about race, gender, and American belonging. The interracial homecoming held in her hometown of Albany, Georgia, and a visit to Oval Office further expose how Coachman’s achievement required white America to rethink the relationship between race, gender, and American identity. While black sport culture lauded Coachman, they presented her as figure of black womanhood, reinforcing the centrality of traditional gender roles to ideal Americanness.

Keywords:   Alice Coachman, Olympic Games, race, gender, black womanhood, American identity

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