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African Americans on Postage Stamps

Wilma Rudolph

Track and Field Athlete

23-cent Wilma Rudolph stamp
The Wilma Rudolph stamp was issued on July 14, 2004.

Few people would have expected that a child who suffered from polio and wore leg braces for several years would one day be proclaimed "the world's fastest woman." But that is the story of Wilma Rudolph, who at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, Italy, won three gold medals in sprint events (the 100-meter, 200-meter, and 4-x-100-meter relay events). Rudolph, who also won a bronze medal in the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia, and won several awards and was inducted into the Black Sports Hall of Fame in 1980. After retiring from competition, Rudolph worked as a teacher, track coach, and sports broadcaster. She also served in several government programs helping underprivileged youth. She also founded the Wilma Rudolph Foundation to promote community-based, youth-oriented athletic and academic programs. In her honor, the Women’s Sports Foundation annually presents the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award to a female athlete who exhibits fortitude, perseverance, self-sacrifice, and inspiration.

The Black Experience

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Wilma Rudolph | National Postal Museum

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