Friday, November 30, 2012

My Mother & The Thinkers

MY MOTHER LOVED ART, any kind of art--books,  literature, paintings, sculpture, music, film, dance, photography, architecture, history, philosophy and intelligent conversation. 


Rodin Museum: Le Baiser

Littie said people who create, participate in and appreciate art are better thinkers than those who do not. 



"Those interested in literature and art handle conversation better," she said. "It has to do with the way their brains work and how they decide to live their lives; maybe because they read."

Rosa Parks: My Story 
James/ Haskins, Jim [Har 
There were people whom Littie admired in the world who were not directly associated with the arts, but she believed if she could get inside their homes, she would find art hanging on the walls and shelves of books. "I'll bet Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King have books and art in their homes," my mother said. 

"It shows in the way they carry themselves. You can hear it in their voices and the way they use language. Reserve and elegance are always present in them. Those people are thinkers among us and thinkers become doers." As history records, both Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote books about their lives and experiences during the Civil Rights Movement.

I knew who Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King were. My mother took periodicals to keep up with current events. 


Rosa Parks & Martin Luther King
(Articles)



I saw television news broadcasts cover the social activism of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. However, Littie restricted my television viewing to her approved programming like news and information shows; and radio was restricted by the local radio stations available in our area, mostly Country music with little national news coverage of such topics as Rosa Parks, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement. 

My mother received this news through delivery of national black publications to our home on a weekly basis. She required me to read the articles and then discuss them with her afterwards. These topics were confusing to me and not always a pleasant experience. I always enjoyed our discussions of art history more, perhaps because, as a child, I understood art history better than civil rights

When my mother made me read articles she had selected about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, I read them to be ready for her quizzes about the Civil Rights Movement.


Moon Over Half Dome Framed
Wall Art 




I read books and articles, and examined art because my mother said a person could not be just a collector of books and art. Art hanging on walls or books on shelves did not pass Littie's sniff test. The person who possessed the books and art had to know something about what was in the books, know about art or know how to produce art.

When my grandmother gave me a Brownie camera in exchange for not bothering her gun again, Littie told me to shoot everything, except people. She was particularly fond of sunsets, water, night skies, old buildings and sand. When I was about 11 years old, my mother bought postcards with Ansel Adams photography, saying I should model my own style of photography on his style, which she thought was magnificent. 

I had no photographic style at that time. "Aim high!" She scolded. "And be sure and pack your camera when we go to the beach next weekend." My mother had a friend in Houston who was from a wealthy mortuary family with property in Galveston and one son my age. During the season, we often met her and her son at their beach cottage for weekends. My mother was always happy when her friend's older son, who was a professional photographer, joined us at the beach and let me tag along while he photographed nature scenes and explain lighting and photo composition. 

I wrote a story, Shooting Without A Gun, in my book, Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's, about Bigmama's gun and the camera. Take a look and join my channel.

My mother didn't say much about the incident with me and Bigmama's gun, but I am certain she had all to do with Bigmama giving me that camera in the same way she had Uncle Fred giving me a croquet set for my birthday in Denver the summer I turned 15.

Reflections in Black:
A History of Black Photographers
 1840 to the Present
That summer of my 15th birthday, Aunt Clara took me to the mountains, where I wasted rolls of film trying to take shots as my mother had instructed, only to find out after the photographs were developed that I was no Ansel Adams, not even close. When I got home from vacation, my mother and I reviewed my shots and I realized the photography exercise was for my benefit. She was trying to help me develop an eye for art. 


I did develop an eye for photography. My images were published in a significant reference book on the history of  photography. 



My photography has been collected by a number of prestigious museums and libraries, published in books, newspapers and magazines, and exhibited around the world with a Smithsonian Exhibition, Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers 1840 to the Present. I credit Littie for my success by insisting that I take all those terrible pictures when I was a kid.

The American Amateur 
Photographer, Volume 9 
by Anonymous [Paperback] 
(Google Affiliate Ad)

There were few things that satisfied my mother more than being totally absorbed in art, the art of others in galleries, her own art creations, my crude and amateur photography or pictures in books. And she liked volumes, not just for the quantity, but for the matching binding. "Sets of books look really great on shelves," she said. "Makes you feel like you're in a library. The feel of art history books and the smell of them make me want to paint or get knee-deep in some clay," she would say.


"You can't pretend to love art or know what's in books," she said. "Love and knowledge of these subjects come out in your conversation, And if you're pretending, you will soon look the fool. Anybody with money can be advised on what art pieces to buy," she said. "The real test is finding a way to surround yourself with art if you are on a tight budget." And a tight budget was something my mother knew all about. "But we can't let the lack of money keep us from enjoying the finer things," she said. "People need art in their lives, all people--rich and poor!" 

When I was a little girl, our small Jim Crow town did not allow African Americans to use the segregated public library in the 1950s. Instead, the city's Jim Crow laws allowed the library to send a bookmobile into certain neighborhoods to discourage African Americans from using the downtown library. But times do change. A bookmobile was a converted bus with rows of shelves with books, mostly outdated and tattered. The bookmobile was most active in summer and parked in public places where African Americans were allowed to gather. Today, things have really changed. My hometown library has hosted celebrations of my career and is an active collector of my work. 

However, back then, until we were allowed to use the facility, my mother and I took a Greyhound Bus 100 miles away to Houston to use the Houston Public Library. The trip to Houston was an all day affair, but worth it, even if we didn't qualify for library cards because we were from out of town and not because we were black. We sat among all those art books on the shelves and read until it was time for us to catch our bus back home. At the time, we concentrated on art because there wasn't a great deal written in books about African Americans or pictures of people like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King in books and magazines, unless they were black publications. At that time, my mother and I never imagined that I would write books and take photographs chronicling African Americans that would be collected by the Houston Public Library or my hometown library; or maybe Littie did imagine that.

Art Gallery Greeting Cards

My mother used those books in the library to imagine places we had never been, to see images from faraway places that one day we might see and to teach me to see myself as the Jim Crow south could not. My mother took me to the movies often, starting when I was four years old. We would lose ourselves in the beautiful clothes and exotic locations. 

From those movies and books, she imagined scenes, learned to paint oil landscapes and restored damaged art she bought in second-hand stores. She collected art, museum, gallery and exhibition books and often dragged me to out-of-town galleries and museums that allowed African Americans to enter and we could afford to attend. Afterwards, she bought the greeting cards and exhibition books that were not too expensive and she required me to make detailed critiques of shows we had seen.

A History of Interior Design 
Littie collected interior design,  architecture and art magazines, too. "Be careful with those," she told me. "They're not cheap." Sketching out plans for our home improvement projects was a favorite past-time that my mother loved. Using her architecture and art magazines, and Vogue pattern decorating book, she measured and made multiple drawings before presenting them to my father to see if he could build whatever it was she wanted. 

Usually, he couldn't or wouldn't  produce her final design or, if he did, she wasn't satisfied with the shortcuts he took. So, she went on to construct whatever small project she wanted to create, like her dressing table, another story in my book. She got her idea for the dressing table, bench and window curtain from a McCall Magazine. Later, after making her own lavish vanity table, she made a small one for my room, similar to the one in the picture below. It was a month-long project of planning, locating and cleaning cheap pieces and, finally,  painting, which Littie closely supervised.


Here is an excerpt from my story, The Dressing Table: Before the old rough wooden sideboard became my mother's dressing table, it sank with every rain into the dirt of the backyard of our new home. One day she cleaned the weather-worn table, knocked its legs back into place, and took it into her bedroom. The table and a bench, rescued from the garage, waited for weeks while she embroidered a crisp white pillowcase and sheet to create a seat and matching table cover. Pink roses and green stems swirled into lush bouquets and spilled to the hems of the floor-length bench and table skirts. I looked into the mirror, retrieved from an old dresser whose drawers no longer fit. Though the glass had a few spots around the edges, my mother had repainted its chipped frame. 


Art, music and literature were my mother's weapons against excuses, which she refused to accept. "Most often," she said, "You get what you give."


Rodin the Thinker Statue
When I was nine years old, my mother brought home a book on the French sculptor, François-Auguste-René Rodin (1840-1917). I was as confused about her handing me this book after she had read it as I was about her making me take ballet and piano lessons, which I am now convinced she insisted upon so that I could notate music to songs she wrote.

I remember the cover was Rodin's The Thinker, a bronze and marble sculpture, which is now in the Musée Rodin in Paris"Why do I have to read this book about Rodin?" I asked, mispronouncing his name in my childish innocence and ignorance.

"Because I said so," my mother said. "And so that you will learn to say this name correctly. Rodin," she pronounced it for me and made me repeat it. "You can't go to college mispronouncing famous names." I knew I did not dare argue with her or just pretend I read the book because she would quiz me on it like she did everything else. So, I read it as part of my general education outside of regular school.

Auguste Rodin
by Mayo Roos
Contrary to what I thought before starting the book, I found it interesting. Rodin's early education was not considered good enough to gain him entrance into the elite art academy and still he went on to be a foremost figure in the development of modern sculpture. His piece, The Thinker, became my favorite work of art, representing a superior intellectual quality like my mother's that I wished to possess. 

Could Littie have known this book and sculpture would have that impact on me? Or was she teaching me something about my own education, also considered inferior because I was attending a Jim Crow school at the time? And my mother knew the book about Rodin was not the type of reading material our school library offered. She wanted me to know about people and places far away from my Jim Crow world, one of the reasons we traveled to other states where I could see what the rest of the world had to offer me. "Do not be afraid to explore ideas through art, film, books and traditions of other cultures," she always said. "That's how you learn." My mother believed in a global education.

Rodin Museum in Paris, France
While reading the book on Rodin, I learned that he was born in 1840 in Paris, France, while across the Atlantic, slavery in America was at its height. During the civil rights movement when I was reading about Rodin, it was still unlikely that a little black girl would have been able to discover this genius. A Jim Crow education would have completely prevented that, except for my mother's insistence on exposing me to higher concepts. When Rodin was 76 years old, he donated his own works of art and his art collection by other artists to the French government. My mother told me about his donation, which is now in the Rodin Museum.

Auguste Rodin: 
Master of Sculpture

I searched the Internet and could not find a copy of the Rodin book my mother gave me all those years ago. Perhaps the book about this master of sculpture is out of print. But I found some other interesting selections devoted to Rodin and others that trace art history from the Renaissance to Rodin and the birth of modern art.

François-Auguste-René Rodin
(Kindle)

Over the years, my mother's interests and book collection changed and I do not know what happened to the book about Rodin that she made me read. The book was probably not responsible in itself for getting me a college scholarship or even getting me through Texas A&M University's Department of Journalism and Broadcast Communications. My mother knew Rodin would have an influence on me at a time when I needed it most. 

I found the book, François-Auguste-René Rodin. It appears to be a comparable title and covers the life of Rodin, who fought his way into art history in spite of the limitations of his school and his academic training. François-Auguste-René Rodin : "Rodin studied at the Petite Ecole and Gobelins tapestry manufactory and failed three times to pass the Ecole des Beaux-Arts order, where Father Eymard encouraged him to pursue sculpture and drawing. Rodin had to defend himself for the Age of Bronze and St John the Baptist sculptures for work so realistic that critics felt he made a cast from a live model." 



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© 2012 Sunny Nash. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
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Sunny Nash is a writer, producer, photographer and leading author on race relations in America. 



Sunny Nash produces blogs, media, books, articles and images on history and contemporary topics, from slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow and civil rights to post racism, social media, entertainment and technology using her book, Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s, as a basis for commentary and research.

Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s by Sunny Nash on Amazon

by Sunny Nash
Sunny Nash's book was selected by the Association of American University Press as a resource for understanding U.S. race relations and recommended for Native American Collections by the Miami-Dade Public Library System.

"My book, 'Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's,' began in the 1990s. I was writing for Hearst and Knight-Ridder newspapers. The stories are about my childhood with my part-Comanche grandmother, Bigmama, my parents, relatives, friends, and others; and my interpretation of the events surrounding the Jim Crow South before and during the Civil Rights Movement.

Robin Fruble of Southern California said, "Every white person in America should read this book! Sunny Nash writes the story of her childhood without preaching or ranting but she made me realize for the first time just how much skin color changes how one experiences the world. But if your skin color is brown, it matters a great deal to a great number of people. I needed to learn that. Sunny Nash is a great teacher," Fruble said.

My Zimbio


Sunny Nash – Race Relations in America

Saturday, November 24, 2012

FloJo Fastest Woman in the World

Florence “FloJo” Joyner, winner of three gold medals in Olympics track and field, could have been in the movies.

Florence FloJo Joyner, 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea
Florence “Flo Jo” Joyner, 1988 Olympics Gold

Florence “FloJo” Joyner


Long before there was a J.Lo, FloJo splashed onto national television cameras. 

Florence FloJo Griffith-Joyner, track and field star of the Olympics, was as beautiful as any film actress in the movies in young black Hollywood or any other Hollywood for that matter. FloJo's style set her apart in the athletic world and the rest of the universe. 

One reason for the television camera's romance with this track and field star, Florence FloJo Griffith-Joyner, was the fact that she looked good no matter what! Whether she was warming up, coming out of the block, running on the track or winning the race at the finish line in a stream of steam, FloJo looked glamorous. Every woman in the world--young, old, black, white and everything in between--wanted to look so good working so hard while making the job look so easy. 


Florence FloJo Joyner knew the principles and psychology of the appearance of beauty and she applied them.


That's it--the beauty of it all! I know that's how I felt. In my heart I knew winning those races she was working as hard as a man on the docks. But she made the job look easy because she maintained her poise and her extreme beauty at the same time that she won gold at the Olympics. She seemed to know how to keep a flattering expression on her face because she knew magazine and television cameras would capture her every flare and twitch. She was good at her job as indicated by her file photos.


FloJo’s speed at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, won her the title of the fastest female in the world and most glamorous woman in track.


Florence Joyner on Cover of Sports Illustrated
Florence Joyner
Track & Field Olympic Star
Glamor Runner
FloJo's victories in the 1988 Olympics earned her the title Fastest Woman in the World and landed her on the cover of Sports Illustrated. She had set a world record at the U.S. Olympics quarterfinals trials, caused a sensation in female athletics with records still unbroken, and won three gold medals at the 1988 Seoul, Korea, Olympics. 

Perfect makeup--glossy lips, alluring eyelashes, flowing hair and manicured fingernails put a glamorous face on track and field, rivaled only by beauty pageants and Hollywood movies. Florence FloJo Joyner became a star track and field athlete, television actor, fashion model, designer, makeup and fitness professional, and writer.


Florence FloJo Griffith-Joyner - 1988 Olympics, Seoul, Korea--Fastest Woman in the World




Mojave, California 1950s - Mojave Virtual Museum
Born Delorez Florence Griffith on December 21, 1959, FloJo was the seventh of eleven children born to Florence and Robert Griffith in the small town of Mojave, California, in the southwestern region of the Mojave Desert, ninety miles north of Los Angeles. According to the 2010 Census, the town reported 4.238 residents, which in 1959, would have offered few opportunities for a budding national athlete and entertainer like FloJo.

When Florence FloJo Griffith was four years old, her parents separated and her mother moved the family to the Jordan Downs Public Housing Project in the Angeles Watts area. However, spending time with her father, who had a job as an electrical technician in Mojave, FloJo began running when she was seven years old, chasing jackrabbits in the Mojave Desert. Her father had no idea he was beginning the training for an Olympic  star, the fastest woman in the world.

Jordan Downs Public Housing Project
Housing Authority City of Los Angeles
After summers in the Mojave Desert with her father, FloJo returned home to her family at Jordan Downs Public Housing Project in Watts. Determined to get an education, FloJo graduated from Jordan High School in Los Angeles where she continued to run on the track and field team. 

Then Florance Joyner enrolled at California State University, Northridge, and continued running, but had to drop out of school and get a job in banking to help support her family. She re-enrolled in school when she found financial aid, changing colleges, transferring to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to join her track coach, Bob Kersee. 

In fact, FloJo was forced to drop out of school several times due to financial difficulties. In the meanwhile, she made money at a banking job and additional money on the side with jobs as hairstylist and manicurist, skills she would use later to reinvent herself as the glamorous FloJo. 

"[Florence Griffith Joyner] was someone who wanted to make a fashion statement, as well as do it while running so fast you could barely see the fashion," says Phil Hersh of the Chicago Tribune on ESPN Classic's SportsCentury series. Going to school on financial aid and loans, FloJo continued her track training. In 1983, she won the NCAA 400 and then graduated from UCLA with her bachelor's degree in psychology. In 1987, FloJo married 1984 Olympic triple jump gold medalist, Al Joyner, brother of heptathlon Olympian, Jackie Joyner-Kersee. In 1990, their daughter, Mary Ruth, was born. 

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FloJo did not take off her running shoes until she had won three gold medals in the Olympics and an assortment of silver medals and other running distinctions. Although her 1988 records still stand, FloJo was accused by other athletes of using performance-enhancement drugs in order to win gold medals. However, Flo Jo never failed a drug test.
President Ronald Reagan
& Florence Griffith-Joyner

After her 1988 triple gold-medal Olympics, FloJo was inducted into the Track and Field Hall of Fame, named by The Associated Press 1988 Female Athlete of the Year, won the James E. Sullivan Award as the nation's top amateur star athlete and served as co-chair of the President's Council on Physical Fitness. There were other black female  Olympic medalists, like Wilma Rudolph, who dismantled Jim Crow in athletics and created the path for Florence FloJo Joyner to run without overt racism and to exude the beauty and confidence that gave her so much more than gold medals in the Olympics.

After an illustrious career, FloJo  retired and established a foundation for underprivileged children, remembering her own childhood in Watts. She also began her own clothing line of sports athletic uniforms, using sewing skills she learned from her seamstress mother. When she was a youngster, FloJo designed and made her own wardrobes for school and made clothes for her dolls, so the new profession came natural to her.

We watched FloJo on television gracing the track like a fashion model on a runway or an film actress on the red carpet for her latest role in the movies. And as fate would have it, FloJo acted in several television shows

FloJo, Fashion Model, Beauty Consultant & Fitness Expert
Fashion Model, 
Beauty Consultant & Fitness Expert
FloJo began having seizures in 1996. Two years later, on September 21, 1998, at age 38, FloJo suffered an epileptic seizure in her sleep and died. That was just ten years after she became famous as the fastest woman in the world and captured the attention of television cameras around the world for her glamour on and off the track. FloJo's Olympic record still stands. She is still the fastest woman in the world.


© 2012 Sunny Nash. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
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Sunny Nash is a writer, producer, photographer and leading author on race relations in America. 



Sunny Nash produces blogs, media, books, articles and images on history and contemporary topics, from slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow and civil rights to post racism, social media, entertainment and technology using her book, Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s, as a basis for commentary and research.

Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s by Sunny Nash on Amazon

by Sunny Nash
Sunny Nash's book was selected by the Association of American University Press as a resource for understanding U.S. race relations and recommended for Native American Collections by the Miami-Dade Public Library System.

"My book, 'Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's,' began in the 1990s. I was writing for Hearst and Knight-Ridder newspapers. The stories are about my childhood with my part-Comanche grandmother, Bigmama, my parents, relatives, friends, and others; and my interpretation of the events surrounding the Jim Crow South before and during the Civil Rights Movement.

Robin Fruble of Southern California said, "Every white person in America should read this book! Sunny Nash writes the story of her childhood without preaching or ranting but she made me realize for the first time just how much skin color changes how one experiences the world. But if your skin color is brown, it matters a great deal to a great number of people. I needed to learn that. Sunny Nash is a great teacher," Fruble said.

My Zimbio

Sunny Nash – Race Relations in America


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wilma Rudolph Olympics Gold Medal Star

At the 1960 Rome Olympics, Wilma Rudolph became the first U.S. female in Olympic history to win three gold medals. 


Wilma Rudolph, first U.S. female to win three gold medals in track and field
Wilma Rudolph,
1960 Olympic Summer Games, Rome

Amazing Olympic Athlete 
Wilma Rudolph (Amazing Americans)
Wilma Rudolph

In 1960, Wilma Rudolph of Tennessee State University made national headlines in radio, television, the black media (article) and mainstream newspapers when she became the first U.S. female to win three gold medals in track and field at the 1960 Rome Olympics. 


Wilma Rudolph had overcome childhood polio and fought her way to good health by the time she reached her teens. Her star athletic abilities made her a high school basketball star, garnered for her attention from college coaches, ed her a college education and eventually placed in history alongside Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and other civil rights activists.  

Just as television was beginning to become the main bearer of news and celebrity, Rudolph's track victories helped her to pick up the civil rights struggle against Jim Crow when she got the chance to run track in college. She became an important vehicle for the Civil Rights Movement while she getting college education, which she would use later to influence a new generation of track stars and school students. The most important vehicle out of poverty and low-paying jobs was education, one of the primary goals of 1950s civil rights efforts by Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks.

Civil rights and women's rights pioneer, Wilma Rudolph did her part to break down racial and gender barriers, inspiring women and African Americans when she protested that her hometown victory parade in Clarksville, Tennessee, after the 1960 Olympics, be an integrated event and not segregated, as Jim Crow laws had previously dictated.

Wilma Rudolph's 1960 Rome Olympics track victory came after Alice Coachmen's track and field victory in the 1948 London Olympics was announced on radio: Coachman became the first African American woman to win a gold medal in the history of the Olympics.


Wilma Rudolph: 
Track & Field 
Inspiration 
(Legendary Athletes)
 [Library Binding]

Wilma Rudolph, first U.S. female to win three gold medals in track and field
Wilma Rudolph 

Wilma Rudolph was a four-and-a-half-pound premature baby born  in 1940 in Clarksville, Tennessee. She did not go to traditional school for one year, but was home schooled due to infantile paralysis, caused by the polio virus, which she contracted at age four. Still a sickly child at age seven, she was enrolled into a segregated and underfunded Tennessee school by her parents who did not have the best jobs or health insurance. By age 12, Rudolph's treatments at the Fisk University Medical College Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, had straightened her twisted leg and given her the normal physical health she had never enjoyed before. 


Four of the "Tigerbelles" from legendary coach Ed Temple's Tennessee State University track and field program pose for a photo during the U.S. team's preparation for the Olympic Games. Wilma Rudolph, Lucinda Williams, Barbara Jones and Martha Hudson
Olympics Track & Field Team
In tenth grade, Wilma Rudolph became a record-setting Burt High School basketball star. Tennessee State University (TSU) track coach, Ed Temple, invited her to put on her running shoes and come to a summer track camp at TSU, where she received a full college scholarship after graduating from high school. At TSU, Rudolph earned a place on Temple's track and field team, the Tigerbells.

When Wilma Rudolph competed in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, her first Olympic competition, she won a bronze medalDuring the Melbourne Olympics in November 1956, 16-year-old Rudolph's attention was also on civil rights at home, where Jim Crow laws prevailed in education, housing and jobs. In June 1956, the Montgomery Bus Boycott ignited by Rosa Parks (article) ended in victory and hurled Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (article) and his movement of peaceful protest into the national spotlight. The Civil Rights Movement was in causing a nationwide tide of protest.

Greensboro Girls Protest at Woolworth's Sit-ins
Female Students Woolworth's Sit-ins
Seven months before Rudolph 1960 Olympics victory, North Carolina black female college students protested with male students against segregated lunch counters in Woolworth's sit-ins (article), solidifying women's participation in racial protests nationwide and joining Rosa Parks in the female civil rights legacy. 

Wilma Rudolph was invited to the White House by President John F. Kennedy after her victory at the 1960 Rome Olympics. 


Wilma Rudolph and President John F. Kennedy
President John F. Kennedy & Wilma Rudolph
Oval Office, The White House, 1960
All eyes--young and old, black and white--were on Wilma Rudolph, considered to be the fastest woman on earth at the time. Rudolph returned from Rome in 1960 a television and media celebrity.

Nicknamed, "The Tornado," Wilma Rudoloh was the first woman to win the James E. Sullivan Award for Good Sportsmanship (1961), Rudolph was the first U.S. female athlete to win the European Sportswriters' Award, Sportsman of the Year. She won the Christopher Columbus Award for Most Outstanding International Sports Personality (1960), The Penn Relays (1961), the New York Athletic Club Track Meet and The Millrose Games. In 1962, she retired from track at age 22 and graduated from college in 1963 with a degree in elementary education.

Wilma Rudolph was a school teacher and inspiration to the generation of track stars who followed her to the Olympics and beyond.


Florence “Flo Jo” Joyner  & Wilma Rudolph
Florence “Flo Jo” Joyner  & Wilma Rudolph


In 1963 Wilma Rudolph was selected to represent the U.S. State Department as a Goodwill Ambassador at the Games of Friendship in Dakar, Senegal. Later that year, she was invited by Dr. Billy Graham to join the Baptist Christian Athletes in Japan. Rudolph taught school, became a sports media commentator on national television and inspired a new generation of American girls and female runners like Florence Joyner. 

Wilma Rudolph died of brain cancer in 1994 at age 54. The Clarksville, Tennessee, portion U.S. Route 79 was renamed in her honor and, in 1997, Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist set aside June 23 as "Wilma Rudolph Day."


© 2012 Sunny Nash. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
~Thank You~

Join Sunny Nash on Face Book
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Follow Sunny Nash @ Twitter
Follow Sunny Nash @ Twitter
Join Sunny Nash on Linkedin



Sunny Nash is a writer, producer, photographer and leading author on race relations in America. 



Sunny Nash produces blogs, media, books, articles and images on history and contemporary topics, from slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow and civil rights to post racism, social media, entertainment and technology using her book, Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s, as a basis for commentary and research.

Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s by Sunny Nash on Amazon

by Sunny Nash
Sunny Nash's book was selected by the Association of American University Press as a resource for understanding U.S. race relations and recommended for Native American Collections by the Miami-Dade Public Library System.

"My book, 'Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's,' began in the 1990s. I was writing for Hearst and Knight-Ridder newspapers. The stories are about my childhood with my part-Comanche grandmother, Bigmama, my parents, relatives, friends, and others; and my interpretation of the events surrounding the Jim Crow South before and during the Civil Rights Movement.

Robin Fruble of Southern California said, "Every white person in America should read this book! Sunny Nash writes the story of her childhood without preaching or ranting but she made me realize for the first time just how much skin color changes how one experiences the world. But if your skin color is brown, it matters a great deal to a great number of people. I needed to learn that. Sunny Nash is a great teacher," Fruble said.

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Sunny Nash – Race Relations in America