Every great athlete deserves to be recognized for what he or she has done. However, the ones the athletes that deserve to be recognized the most are the ones that go above and beyond to change the way society looks at sports. Many athletes are good at what they play but there are only a few who indict change on policies and views of society. If I had to pick four people to put in a Mount Rushmore of African American athletes, they would be Johnny Bright, Jack Johnson, Wilma Rudolph, and Jim Brown.
All of these athletes have had some kind of long-lasting effect on society as a whole. Each of them deserves a spot on the Mount Rushmore of African American Athletes.
Johnny Bright was a professional football player for the Canadian league. He also played college football at Drake University. He is a member of many halls of fame and was named a First Team College Football All-American.
However, I would not include him just because of how great of a player he was. Johnny Bright’s incident that occurred while playing for Drake University is why I would include him. Johnny Bright was a victim of an intentional assault while playing against Oklahoma A&M. After this incident, the NCAA mandated that face masks be put on helmets and there were now penalties for striking another player with an elbow, forearm or locked hands. I would include Bright because of the discriminatory acts placed against him and his ling lasting legacy on society and football.
Jack Johnson was an American boxer who became the first African American heavyweight champion. He is most famously known for his “Fight of the Century.” In 1910, Johnson’s opponent, who was white, stated that his sole purpose in this fight was to prove that a white man was better than a negro. In the fifteenth round, Johnson’s opponent had been knocked down twice and eventually threw in the towel. This went to show the whole world that blacks and whites were equal. I wouldn’t include Johnson just because he won, I would include him because he gave all blacks encouragement to keep fighting for what was right. The outcome of his fight introduced many race riots all across America. My main reason for including Johnson would be because of the effect he had on African Americans, showing them that they really were just as good as the whites.
Wilma Rudolph was a sprinter who became an Olympic world-record-holding champion. She was the first woman to win three gold medals in the Olympics. Rudolph was born prematurely and was diagnosed with polio. She was able to come over her polio and became an inspiration to many young African American females. Like the others, I would not just include Rudolph because she was a good athlete. She inspired many young girls to take an interest in track. Not only did Rudolph have to overcome childhood illnesses and disabilities, but she also had to deal with discrimination. I would include Rudolph because of her hard work and determination. She broke many gender barriers in her sport and is a great role model for young females.
Lastly, I would include Jim Brown. Brown was an American professional football player. He was recognized as a most valued player and won an NFL championship with the Browns. However, its not Brown’s football career that made me include him. I chose to include him because of his voluntary movements with the community. He donates his time helping with anti-gang campaigns and helps build life skills for young teens.