LA Dreamers: Our African-American Pioneers – Wilma Rudolph

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LOS ANGELES (KTLA) – We’re celebrating Black History Month by highlighting Southern California’s African-American Pioneers.

Wilma Rudolph is a dreamer who changed the landscape of women’s track and field in the United States.

After being born prematurely in 1940, it looked like this future star would never walk, let alone run.

Her left leg was crippled by polio and required intense physical therapy.

She was taunted both because of her race and her disability.

But, instead of giving up on her athletic dreams, the twentieth of twenty-two siblings focused on becoming a champion.

With less than four-years of training, she made the 1956 Olympic team at the age of sixteen and won a bronze.

Four years later “The Black Pearl” made history as the first American woman to win three gold medals.

After retiring from track, Rudolph became a school teacher and a respected community leader.

This LA Dreamer’s impact can still be seen today as American women continue to dominate their international track and field competition.

To find out more about Wilma Rudolph and other L.A. Dreamers, the Los Angeles Urban League has a special free exhibit called “The 90 That Built L.A.”

For more information, go to

-Derrin Horton reporting

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