Now seems like the perfect time to take a moment and celebrate the achievements of baby boomers who broke through color barriers and challenged the validity of racism with the undeniable strength of their talent and integrity of their actions.
If you are an avid Googler, you may have noticed a recent tribute to Althea Gibson, the first black tennis player to compete in international matches. Gibson was born on August 25,1927 in South Carolina. When she was just a toddler, her family moved to Harlem to try and escape the effects of the Great Depression. With the financial support of her community, who quickly recognized her natural talent, Gibson began entering local tournaments.
On August 28, 1950, she played in her first international match, which lead to both a U.S. Open and Wimbeldon title within the year. She eventually went on to win 11 Grand Slam titles and become a member of both the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame. In today’s age of the powerhouse sisters Serena and Venus Williams, it can be easy to overlook the contributions of those who came before. Gibson was truly a first and there are even some tennis experts who think that Gibson could beat both the Williams sisters.
Another milestone in American history occurred on August 30, 1967, when Thurgood Marshall became the first black justice confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to becoming a judge, Marshall had successfully argued several groundbreaking cases in front of the Supreme Court, including Brown v. Board of Education. He also served as the executive director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Marshall retired in 1991 and the reach of his legacy is impossible to grasp. The cases he won as a lawyer ended segregation in schools and on buses and as a judge, none of his rulings were ever overturned.
On a final note, August 28 also marks the anniversary of the death of Emmett Till. If you aren’t familiar with his moment in history, I encourage you to read up on his story.