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Our favorite time of the year is finally here!

It is time to celebrate and dedicate the entire month of February to black history. Follow Sheen Magazine along the way as we’ll share black history facts throughout the entire month. Every day, we will share little-known facts, celebrate those who played made their mark in history, and the historic moments and events.

Alice Coachman

Before there was a Sanya Richards-Ross and a Natasha Hastings there was Alice Coachman!

Alice Coachman was born on November 9th, 1923 in Albany, Georgia. She is one of ten children! Since living in the south where racism was at its all-time high during this time, Coachman was often denied the chance to train or compete in organized events. To make up for this, Alice trained on her own, often running barefoot in fields and dirt roads, and used old equipment to improve her high jump.

Finding a track and field star

In her teenage years, while attending Madison High School, the school’s boys’ track coach, Harry E. Lash recognized Alice’s true talent. He then got in touch with the athletic department at the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama. The school offered Alice a scholarship in 1939. Initially, Coachman’s parents were not thrilled about Alice’s interest in athletics but they ended up giving her their blessing to enroll.

Before even starting school at Tuskegee, Coachman broke both the high school and college jump records, barefoot in the Amateur Athlete Union (AAU) national championship’s track and field competition.

Over time, Coachman completely dominated in all that she partook in. In 1946, at the same time she enrolled in Albany State College, Alice was the national champion in the 50- and 100- meter races, 400-meter relay, and high jump! At her peak, however, the Olympic Games was canceled in both 1940 and 1944.

The 1948 Summer Olympics

In 1948, Alice Coachman traveled to London as part of the American Olympic team! She suffered from a back injury beforehand but was determined to set a record in the high jump.

Well, she did just that jumping at 5 feet, 6 1/8 inches, becoming the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal. Coachman was honored with the medal by King George VI.

Life after the Olympics

After winning her medal, Alice returned to the United States and finished her degree at Albany State. She formally retired from athletic competitions but the hard work and dedication didn’t stop there.

In 1952, the Coca-Cola Company named Alice Coachman to become a spokesperson, she became the first African American to earn an endorsement deal.

Later on, she established Alice Coachman Track and Field Foundation to support younger athletes and provide assistance to retired Olympic veterans.

The 1996 Summer Olympic Games took place in Atlanta where Alice Coachman was honored as one of the 100 greatest Olympians in history. She has been inducted into nine different Hall of Fames including National Track & Field Hall of Fame (Class of 1975) and the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame (Class of 2004).

The passing of Alice Coachman

On July 14th, 2014, Alice Coachman passed away at 90-years-old in Georgia. Coachman has two children from her first marriage, and her second husband, Frank Davis passed away before her.

Featured Image: Associated Press | Obtained on The New York Times

All information obtained on Biography