Black Mercuries: African American Athletes, Race, and the Modern Olympic Games (HC) (2023)

This book will ship on Feb 8, 2023
The first book to fully chronicle the struggles and triumphs of African American athletes in the Modern Olympic summer games. In the modern Olympic Games, from 1896 through the present, African American athletes have sought to honor themselves, their race, and their nation on the global stage. But even as these incredible athletes have served to promote visions of racial harmony in the supposedly-apolitical Olympic setting, many have also bravely used the games as a means to bring attention to racial disparities in their country and around the world. In Black Mercuries: African American Athletes, Race, and the Modern Olympic Games, David K. Wiggins, Kevin B. Witherspoon, and Mark Dyreson explore in detail the varied experiences of African American athletes, specifically in the summer games. They examine the lives and careers of such luminaries as Jesse Owens, Rafer Johnson, Wilma Rudolph, Florence Griffith-Joyner, Michael Johnson, and Simone Biles, but also many African American Olympians who have garnered relatively little attention and whose names have largely been lost from historical memory. In recounting the stories of these Black Olympians, Black Mercuries makes clear that their superior athletic skills did not always shield them from the racial tropes and insensitivity spewed by fellow athletes, the media, spectators, and many others. Yet, in part because of the struggles they faced, African American Olympians have been extraordinarily important symbolically throughout Olympic history, serving as role models to future Black athletes and often putting their careers on the line to speak out against enduring racial inequality and discriminatory practices in all walks of life.
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David K. Wiggins
Kevin B. Witherspoon
ISBN 10:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Publication Date:
February 8, 2023