November 25, 2013

OURstory: William DeHart Hubbard (1903-1976)

I wonder how many folks that live in the greater Cincinnati area know about William DeHart Hubbard? Hubbard was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on November 25, 1903. As a student at Douglass School, Stowe School, and Walnut Hills High School, Hubbard was known as the fastest kid in school. He also knew that academics were as important as athletics. As such he earned a four-year scholastic average of 90 (out of 100) in his high school years.

Hubbard left Ohio to attend the University of Michigan (1922-1927) where he won six straight AAU long jump titles, two AAU triple jump titles, and two NCAA long jump titles. He also tied the world records for the 60- and 100-yard dashes. In 1927, he set a new world record for the long jump with a leap of 25 feet 10.85 inches.

At the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, Hubbard became the first Black athlete to win an Olympic gold medal in an individual event, when he won the long jump with a leap of 24 feet 5 inches. The actual gold medal that he won was on display at the America I AM: An African American Imprint exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum Center on June 19, 2010 thru January 2, 2011.

Hubbard represented the USA in other Olympic events. He participated in the triple jump, but did not win a medal in that event. Hubbard also participated in the long jump at the 1928 Olympic Games, but did not earn a medal.

In 1927, Hubbard was hired by the Cincinnati Recreation Commission, for which he worked until 1941. In 1942, he moved to Cleveland, where he became the Racial Relations Advisor for the Federal Housing Authority. He retired from this position in 1969.

William DeHart Hubbard was voted into the National Track Hall of Fame in 1957. He died in Cleveland on June 23, 1976.

Most of us know about Carl Lewis or Flo-Jo. Perhaps we should take a moment to honor the first African American gold medalist ... William DeHart Hubbard ... next time we think about the Olympics!

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