16 Black Firsts at the Olympic Games

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Gabby Douglas

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On Thursday, Aug. 2, at the 2012 London Olympics, 16-year-old gymnast Gabby Douglas became the first black Olympian to win the women's all-around gymnastics competition.

Constantin Henriquez de Zubiera

Second from right, front row (Courtesy of rugby1823.blogosfere.it)
Second from right, front row (Courtesy of rugby1823.blogosfere.it)
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Haitian-born French rugby player Constantin Henriquez de Zubiera became the first black person to compete in the Olympics at the 1900 Paris Games.

George Poage

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Wikipedia

U.S. hurdler George Poage became the first African American to medal at the Olympics when he won two bronze medals at the 1904 Olympic Games in St. Louis, Mo. 

John Baxter Taylor

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Courtesy of crossfitnyc.com
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American track-and-field star John Baxter Taylor won a gold medal at the 1908 London Games when his relay team took first place. He was the first black Olympian to do so. 

DeHart Hubbard

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DeHart Hubbard captured the gold medal during the 1924 Paris Olympics' long jump competition, becoming the first African American to win gold in an individual event. 

Alice Coachman

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American high jumper Alice Coachman finished first at the 1948 London Olympics, taking home the first gold medal won by a black woman.

Don Barksdale

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Forward Don Barksdale was the first African American to play for the USA basketball team during the 1948 London Olympics. 

Willye White

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Courtesy of findagrave.com 
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Female track-and-field athlete Willye White became the first athlete to compete in five Olympic Games, joining the U.S. team in each game between 1956 and 1972. 

Abebe Bikila

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Keystone/Hulton Archive
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Abebe Bikila became the first black African to win a gold medal when he finished first in marathon running during the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Bob Beamon

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Long jumper Bob Beamon broke the 29-foot record at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. 

Debi Thomas

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Figure skater Debi Thomas became the first African American to win a Winter Olympic medal, earning a bronze at the 1988 Calgary Games.

Zina Garrison

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Tennis professional Zina Garrison struck gold during the 1988 Seoul Olympics in the tennis doubles competition, entering the record books as the first African American to win an Olympic medal in tennis. 

Derartu Tulu

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Ethiopian long-distance runner Derartu Tulu became the first African woman to win an Olympic gold medal during the 1992 Barcelona Games. 

Venus and Serena Williams

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The dominant duo Venus and Serena Williams were the first sisters to win gold medals in the tennis doubles competition at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.  

Vonetta Flowers

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Alongside partner Jill Bakken, bobsledder Vonetta Flowers raced to the gold medal during the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, becoming the first African American to win gold at the Winter Olympics.

Shani Davis

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With his first-place win in the 1,000-meter speed skating competition at the 2006 Turin Games, Shani Davis became the first black Olympian to win an individual Winter Olympics medal. 

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