At the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, track and field athlete Jesse Owens achieved international fame. He won four gold medals; one each in the 100 meters, the 200 meters, the long jump and as a member of the 4×100 relay team.
Dominique Dawes wowed the gymnastics world at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. As a member of the gold medal winning U.S. gymnastics team, nick-named the “Magnificent Seven”, she became the first African –American to win gold in the sport. (Photo: Doug Pensinger /Allsport)
George Coleman Poage
George Coleman Poage became the first African-American to win a medal in the Olympic games with two bronze medals in 1904. (Photo:Wikimedia Commons)
Jackie Joyner- Kersee was the first American to win gold for the long jump and the first woman to earn more than 7,000 points in the seven-event heptathlon. She is the most decorated female athlete in the history of Olympic track and field, having won three gold medals, silver and two bronze in four separate Olympic games.
Photo: Tony Duff/Getty Images
Alice Coachman was not able to compete in the Olympic Games in 1940 and 1944 because of World War II, but when she got her chance in 1948 she won gold.Coachman became the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal at the Summer Olympics in London that year. In 2002 she was designated a Women’s History Month Honoree by the National Women’s History Project(Photo:blackpast.com)
Michael Johnson holds the world and Olympic records in 400 meter and 4×400 meters relay. He won four Olympic gold medals including two at the 1996 Summer Olympic.s He became the only male athelete in history to win both the 200 meter dash and 400 meter dash events at the same Olympics.(Photo:Mike Hewitt /Allsport)
Tommie Smith and John Carlos
In the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City Tommie Smith won the gold medal for the 200-meter dash and John Carlos won the bronze, but their medals were not what made headlines. The now iconic photo of the two men raising their gloved fists in the air as a salute to Black Power caused controversy and led to both men being banned from the games.
Before he was known as Muhammad Ali, Cassius Clay Jr. went for the gold in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. Clay won the light heavyweight gold medal and went one to become one of the greatest boxers of all time.
Wilma Rudolph overcame polio as a child to become one of the greatest runners in American history. She won a bronze in the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games, and became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field events (100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay) at the 1960 Rome Olympics.
As a veteran sprinter and long jumper, Vonetta Flowers had always aspired to make the Summer Olympics team in track and field. When that did not happen she went decided to try a new sport; bobsledding. Flowers went onto to join the U.S. Winter Olympic bobsled team and made history as the first African-American to win a gold medal at the winter games. (Photo: Getty Images)
1992 Dream Team
The “Dream Team” from Barcelona’s 1992 Summer Olympics, was the first Olympic basketball team to include professional players. The NBA’s greatest stars of the time including, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird joined together on the Olympic stage to win the gold medal for Team USA. The superstar aura of the “Dream Team” is rekindled every four years when a new U.S. Olympic Basketball Team is chosen, but few teams since have rivaled the celebrity status of the “Dream Team.” (Photo: Mike Powell/ALLSPORT)
Venus and Serena Williams
Venus and Serena Williams are the image of USA women’s tennis. The sisters have played doubles in the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympic Games and the 2008 Beijing Games. Both times the Williams’ brought home gold. Venus also brought home gold for women’s singles in 2000.
John Baxter “Doc” Taylor
In 1908, John Baxter “Doc” Taylor became the first African-American to win a gold medal at the Summer Olympics in London. He was a part of the 4×400 relay team. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Falling short and only achieving the bronze at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, the USA men’s basketball team was looking for redemption at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, thus being nicknamed the “Redeem Team.” The Redeem Team’s roster included NBA stars: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard. Team USA won the gold medal in 2008 and truly redeemed the loss from ’04. (Photo: Antonio Scroza)
Florence “Flo Jo” Joyner’s lightning speed at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea earned her the title of fastest woman in the world. The record she set in both the 100 meters and 200 meters during those games 24 years ago still has not been broken. Joyner won three gold medals that year.(Photo:Tony Duffy/Getty Images)
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Every four years we watch the Olympics Games with excitement as America’s greatest athletes compete against their best international competitors for a chance to bring home the gold. This year’s games are no different, as we watched members of team USA like gymnast Gabby Douglas and swimmer Michael Phelps dominate their respective fields. Members of team USA have made history time and time again, just one week into the 2012 games in London. Here is a look at some of the greatest black Olympians of all time, who made both their country and their race proud while competing in the global spotlight.