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The Life Of Track Star Wilma Rudolph

New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection. - NYPL Digital

In the 1960s, African American track star Wilma Rudolph was known as the world’s fastest woman. She became the first American woman to win three gold medals in a single Olympics in 1960. Hers was an unlikely path to Olympic gold. She was born in rural Tennessee in 1940, an Olympic year, the 20th in a family of 22 children. At age 4, she contracted polio, which had no vaccine at the time. She was fitted with a brace, which she wore for several years. Actress Gwendolyn Briley-Strand will play the role of Wilma Rudolph in the Maryland Humanities Council’s 2015 Chautauqua Series.

She will be appearing at Chautauqua events throughout the state over the next several days, along with actors playing the roles of Babe Ruth and Jim Thorpe. They’ll talk about their iconic careers, which for Ms. Rudolph included her record-breaking performance at the 1960s Summer Olympics in Rome. It’s called “Sporting Lives.”

They’ll be at Montgomery College tonight, tomorrow, and Friday. They’ll be at the Community College of Baltimore County over the weekend, and in Cecil County and at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels early next week. 

Host, Midday (M-F 12:00-1:00)