SEASON SIX: Alone and Undaunted
Being the first to excel can be accompanied by isolation, rejection and seclusion. These eight legends all faced the challenge of going it alone as they rose to the pinnacle of achievement.
A call for black athletes to boycott the 1904 Olympics almost kept George Poage from being the first African American to stand on the medal podium, making his achievement both controversial and bittersweet. Tegla Loroupe had to go against the wishes of her father to become the first African woman to win the New York Marathon. Hattie McDaniel’s Oscar success was marred by criticism of her role in Gone With the Wind, while Aretha Franklin dominated in an industry overwhelmingly occupied by men. Walter Harris was treated with derision as America’s first black chess Master and abandoned his sport. Constance Motley and Samuel Battle served in a white justice system that tried to marginalize their accomplishments. Finally, Olaudah Equiano chronicled his experience as a slave before working tirelessly in the fight for abolition. These historic firsts remind us of the enormous courage in the hearts of all our legends of African descent.