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Black Mercuries: African American Athletes, Race, and the Modern Olympic Games (Hardcover)
"An essential source on African American athletes and Olympic history." -Booklist, Starred Review 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.
About the Author
David K. Wiggins is professor emeritus of sport studies at George Mason University. The author of many books, book chapters, and scholarly articles, his publications center primarily on the interconnection among race, sport, and American culture. Included among his books are Glory Bound: Black Athletes in a White America and More than a Game: A History of the African American Experience in Sport. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Kinesiology, currently Editor-in-Chief of Kinesiology Review, and past president of the North American Society for Sport History. Kevin B. Witherspoon is the Dr. Benjamin E. Mays Endowed Chair in the Department of History and Philosophy at Lander University in Greenwood, SC. He is the author of many articles, chapters, and books, most of which focus on the intersection of race, culture, and sport in the Cold War era. His books include Before the Eyes of the World: Mexico and the 1968 Olympics and Defending the American Way of Life: Sport, Culture and the Cold War, co-edited with Toby Rider, both of which won the North American Society for Sport History annual book award. Mark Dyreson is professor of kinesiology, affiliate professor of history, and co-director of the Center for the Study of Sports in Society at Pennsylvania State University. He has published numerous articles, chapters, and books on the history of sport, including Making the American Team: Sport, Culture, and the Olympic Experience and Crafting Patriotism for Global Dominance: America at the Olympics. He is a past president of the North American Society for Sport History, a fellow of the National Academy of Kinesiology, and has served as a managing editor and senior special projects editor for the International Journal of the History of Sport.