Passing the Baton

Passing the Baton

Black Women Track Stars and American Identity

Sport and Society

by Cat M. Ariail

Published by: University of Illinois Press

248 pages, 156.00 x 235.00 mm

  • ISBN: 9780252085383
  • Published: November 2020

£18.99

After World War II, the United States used international sport to promote democratic values and its image of an ideal citizen. But African American women excelling in track and field upset such notions. Cat M. Ariail examines how athletes such as Alice Coachman, Mae Faggs, and Wilma Rudolph forced American sport cultures—both white and Black—to reckon with the athleticism of African American women. Marginalized still further in a low-profile sport, young Black women nonetheless bypassed barriers to represent their country. Their athletic success soon threatened postwar America's dominant ideas about race, gender, sexuality, and national identity. As Ariail shows, the wider culture defused these radical challenges by locking the athletes within roles that stressed conservative forms of femininity, blackness, and citizenship. A rare exploration of African American women athletes and national identity, Passing the Baton reveals young Black women as active agents in the remaking of what it means to be American.