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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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Passing the Baton toward Belonging

Passing the Baton toward Belonging

Mae Faggs and the Making of the Americanness of Black American Track Women, 1954–1956

(p.81) 3 Passing the Baton toward Belonging
Passing the Baton

Cat M. Ariail

University of Illinois Press

This chapter analyzes how the colliding demands of the Cold War and civil rights movement began to endow black women track athletes with propagandistic purpose, as demonstrated by the interpretations of their presences and performances at the 1955 Pan-American Games and 1956 Olympic Games. The “double burden” of race and gender now made them powerful symbols of the promise of American democracy. Black American sport culture also more enthusiastically embraced black track women as race women, recognizing them as active contributors to the effort for black rights. Yet, these altered understandings of black women athletes were not possible without the athletes themselves, especially Mae Faggs, who modeled the often-overlooked agency of young black women.

Keywords:   women athletes, American identity, race, gender, Cold War, civil rights movement, Olympic Games, Pan-American Games, Mae Faggs

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