Black HERstory: Wilma Goldean Rudolph

Wilma Glodean Rudolph (b. June 23, 1940- d. November 12, 1994)

Today’s feature is on Wilma Rudolph. Before Micheal Jordan put up 38 points, 7  rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 1 block during game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals while stricken with a crippling stomach virus (Although some would say he had the flu), Wilma Goldean Rudolph won 3 Olympic Gold Medals in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome on a sprained ankle.

Of course when Wilma was a child no one thought such great accomplishments would even be possible because she was stricken with infantile paralysis, a consequence of Polio. If Paul Robeson was the true meaning of a Renaissance Man, Wilma was the true example of a survivor. Not only did the future track star overcome Polio, she overcame scarlet fever, whooping cough, chicken pox and measles.

After shedding her handicap, a twisted leg caused by Polio, she went on to play basketball in high school, where she was a State Championship, and was eventually discovered by Tennessee State track and field coach Edward S. Temple. “By the time she was 16, she earned a berth on the U.S. Olympic track and field team and came home from the 1956 Melbourne Games with an Olympic bronze medal in the 4 × 100-meter relay.”

The Italians called her “La Gazzella Nera” (the Black Gazelle), the french called her “La Perle Noire” (the Black Pearl). African-Americans can call her Wilma Rudolph, a true testament to the term “Anything is Possible.”

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