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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, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 24 June 2022

Winning as American Women

Winning as American Women

The Heteronormativity of Black Women Athletic Heroines, 1958–1960

Chapter:
(p.115) 4 Winning as American Women
Source:
Passing the Baton
Author(s):

Cat M. Ariail

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5622/illinois/9780252043482.003.0005

This chapter explores how black women athletes began to emerge as accepted exemplars of American identity after their performance at the inaugural US–Soviet Union dual track and field meet in Moscow in 1958. An almost perfect adherence to normative, white-defined gender expectations allowed black American track women to assume this symbolic status. These young women athletes, especially the sprinters and jumpers of Tennessee State University, now protected, rather than contested, the relationship between race, gender, and Americanness. The celebrated emergence of Wilma Rudolph ahead of and during the 1960 Olympic Games highlights the central role of heteronormativity in determining the boundaries of belonging in modern America.

Keywords:   women athletes, track and field, American identity, race, gender, heteronormativity, Wilma Rudolph

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