Black Athletes That Changed Sports Forever

Accomplished media executive Keith Clinkscales is the founder and CEO of Shadow League Digital (SLD), a multi-platform news organization. Dedicated to presenting high-quality journalism and accurate information, Keith Clinkscales and his team cover topics such as sports, music, and other matters with an honest and strong perspective and a focus on African-American culture.

Throughout history, black athletes have faced numerous social, racial, and economic barriers to success at the professional level. In fact, many sports cut out African American players until only a few decades ago. The following are several athletes that forever changed the world of sports for African-Americans:

Jesse Owens
Track star Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics in 1936. This was a big shake-up in the world of sports at a time when global racism was extremely high and Hitler was attempting to prove the superiority of the Aryan race. Not only did Hitler refuse to acknowledge Owens success over Germany in track and field events, both Harry S. Truman and Franklin D. Roosevelt also snubbed the athlete at home.

Jackie Robinson
Many people know the name Jackie Robinson, but they may not be fully aware of the impact he had on the sports world. Robinson was the first black player in Major League Baseball. Prior to his joining the Brooklyn Dodgers, black athletes could only play baseball as part of the Negro League. But Dodgers owner Branch Rickey wanted to integrate baseball, thus prompting him to put Robinson on the team. During much of his time with the team, Robinson faced death threats, racial epitaphs, and insults from players. Despite this, he never fought back. Instead, he spoke volumes through his outstanding performance on the field.

Arthur Ashe
For more than a decade, Arthur Ashe made a statement on the tennis court. He is the only male African-American to win the U.S. Open, Wimbledon, or the Australian Open, and was actually the first black male to win a grand slam event. Beyond his tennis prowess, Ashe was also an outspoken proponent of the American Civil Rights Movement. As an HIV/AIDS-positive individual, he also supported HIV awareness.

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