History is marked with talented black athletes who asserted their civil rights and defied segregation to play professionally. To celebrate Black History Month, here is a look at noteworthy black female athletes who have risen to the top and the women who helped pave their way.
Florence Griffith-Joyner, or Flo Jo, as most people know her, still holds the world record for the 100 and 200 meter dash 20 years after she last competed and 10 years after her untimely death at age 38. Although rumors of steroid use began to swirl after her stunning 1988 Olympic victories, and she retired only a year before steroid testing was to be implemented, the claims against her were never substantiated, and her records remain untarnished.
Besides being one of the fastest people ever to live, she was also a true beauty icon, an African-American woman with an athletic body and those signature long, perfect nails in a time when the first supermodels were emerging and the "right" look excluded most women of color and anyone who wasn't shaped like a very slender hourglass. She's a beloved figure for her sharp sense of style and work in the community, and she even had her own Barbie doll, outfitted in one of her awesomely '80s one-legged track unitards. Let's hope her records stand for a good, long time.