Cover for Ariail: Passing the Baton: Black Women Track Stars and American Identity. Click for larger image

Passing the Baton

Black Women Track Stars and American Identity

How African American women athletes tested a nation's image of itself

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.

"Ariail pinpoints how important the women of track and field were to changing opinions in both white and black communities about the accomplishments of women of color. But she also powerfully argues that this story does not end with victory. Rather, she reminds us how much work gender did (and does) to undergird racism."--Katherine C. Mooney, author of Race Horse Men: How Slavery and Freedom Were Made at the Racetrack


Cat M. Ariail is a lecturer in the Department of History at Middle Tennessee State University.

To order online:
//www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/35rxh7rn9780252043482.html

To order by phone:
(800) 621-2736 (USA/Canada)
(773) 702-7000 (International)

Related Titles

previous book next book
I Fight for a Living - Cover
I Fight for a Living

Boxing and the Battle for Black Manhood, 1880-1915

Louis Moore

Women, Gender, and Families of Color - Cover
Women, Gender, and Families of Color

Edited by Jennifer F. Hamer

Benching Jim Crow - Cover
Benching Jim Crow

The Rise and Fall of the Color Line in Southern College Sports, 1890-1980

Charles H. Martin

NFL Football - Cover
NFL Football

A History of America's New National Pastime

Richard C. Crepeau

The Gold in the Rings - Cover
The Gold in the Rings

The People and Events That Transformed the Olympic Games

Stephen R. Wenn and Robert K. Barney

Black Music Research Journal - Cover
Black Music Research Journal

Edited by Gayle Murchison

Before March Madness - Cover
Before March Madness

The Wars for the Soul of College Basketball

Kurt Edward Kemper

Creating the Big Ten - Cover
Creating the Big Ten

Courage, Corruption, and Commercialization

Winton U. Solberg

The Sport Marriage - Cover
The Sport Marriage

Women Who Make It Work

Steven M. Ortiz

Journal of Sport History - Cover
Journal of Sport History

Edited by Maureen Smith

Globetrotting - Cover
Globetrotting

African American Athletes and Cold War Politics

Damion L. Thomas

Mascot Nation - Cover
Mascot Nation

The Controversy over Native American Representations in Sports

Andrew C. Billings and Jason Edward Black

Pigskin Nation - Cover
Pigskin Nation

How the NFL Remade American Politics

Jesse Berrett

Football and Manliness - Cover
Football and Manliness

An Unauthorized Feminist Account of the NFL

Thomas P. Oates

Kansas City vs. Oakland - Cover
Kansas City vs. Oakland

The Bitter Sports Rivalry That Defined an Era

Matthew C. Ehrlich