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  • Black History Month: Sports and Entertainment

    Black History Month 1 2018

    February 1st marks the beginning of Black History Month, a month where we acknowledge the history of African-Americans, and we celebrate their contributions and achievements in America and the world.

    Each week in February, we'll celebrate some of the historical achievements and impacts that prominent African-American figures have made in a variety of industries.

    Read on for this week's feature on the sports and entertainment industries!

    Jackie Robinson (pictured above) became the first black athlete to play Major League Baseball in 1947 when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers. However, Robinson endured harassment throughout his entire minor league and major league career by not only other teams and fans, but even his own teammates. Robinson rose above the prejudice and hate to become one of baseball’s most talented players. He recorded a .311 career batting average, had 137 home runs, held a league record by stealing home plate 19 times, and helped the Dodgers win a World Series. Off the field, Robinson was a civil rights leader, and lobbied for greater integration across all sports.  

    Hattie McDaniel broke many barriers during her career as a radio performer and actress. In the mid-1920s, she became one of the first African-American woman to perform on radio and established herself as a blues artist. In the 1930s, McDaniel moved to Los Angeles where she pursued a career as an actress. In 1939, Hattie was cast as Mammy in the movie Gone with the Wind, where she earned the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress making her the first African-American to ever win an Oscar. After her death in 1952, McDaniel was awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, and honored with her own commemorative U.S. postage stamp.

    Dominique Dawes was the first African-American woman to win an individual gymnastics medal and the first black person of any nationality or gender to win an Olympic gold medal in gymnastics. In addition, Dawes was the first U.S. gymnast to be a member of three separate medal-winning gymnastics teams.  Earning a spot on an Olympic team is difficult enough for anyone, but Dawes faced additional challenges as she went up against the predetermined mindsets that as an African-American, her body was not cultivated for the sport of gymnastics and it was considered deviant before she even began her routines. However, Dawes’s talent spoke for itself and throughout her career she was a member of the U.S. national gymnastics team for 10 years, was the 1994 U.S. all-around senior National Champion, a World Championships silver medalist and a member of the “Magnificent Seven” 1996 Olympic gymnastics team. Dawes paved the way for gymnasts including Gabby Douglas who became the first African-American in Olympic history to become an individual all-around champion in 2012.

    Sidney Poitier was an African-American actor who consistently refused to play stereotypical roles that were offered to him as a black actor. Poitier became the first African-American to win an Academy Award for Best Actor, for his role in Lilies of the Field. Furthermore, he was only the second African-American to win an Academy Award at all. Later in his career, Poitier would continue to break down barriers when he and Katherine Houghton shared the first interracial on-screen kiss in the 1967 movie Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

    Check back on the Dean College Blog webpage for more stories! 

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