WILLYE WHITE / by Molly Schiot

The only U.S. woman to compete on five Olympic track and field teams, two-time Olympic medallist Willye held the American long jump record for 16 years. As a poor child raised by her grandparents, Willye turned to sports, primarily sprinting,  to escape from working on the Mississippi Delta cotton fields: "Athletics was my flight to freedom: freedom from prejudice, freedom from illiteracy, freedom from bias. It was my acceptance in the world."  She later graduated from Chicago State University and worked in the city's government helping to create sports programs for young girls living in Chicago's housing projects. The Willye White Foundation, established by White in 1991, works to empower inner-city youth through self-esteem training and development. 

The only U.S. woman to compete on five Olympic track and field teams, two-time Olympic medallist Willye held the American long jump record for 16 years. As a poor child raised by her grandparents, Willye turned to sports, primarily sprinting,  to escape from working on the Mississippi Delta cotton fields: "Athletics was my flight to freedom: freedom from prejudice, freedom from illiteracy, freedom from bias. It was my acceptance in the world."  She later graduated from Chicago State University and worked in the city's government helping to create sports programs for young girls living in Chicago's housing projects. The Willye White Foundation, established by White in 1991, works to empower inner-city youth through self-esteem training and development.