Black Olympic champions are too common to count. But when Stanford’s Simone Manuel won gold Thursday at the Rio Games, it was cause for celebration.Just turned 20, Simone Ashley Manuel fully appreciated becoming the first African-American woman to medal in an individual swimming event at the Olympics.
Her local paper, the San Jose Mercury-News, took heat for an early headline not naming her. And NBC got grief for not showing her medal ceremony in a timely manner.
But other news accounts did her justice.
The New York Times noted the history of blacks and swimming:
“Miriam Lynch of Diversity in Aquatics, a nonprofit organization focused on curbing high numbers of drowning deaths among African-Americans, said Manuel’s victory could help reverse what she called a cultural fear of swimming in that group. The phenomenon has been traced to slavery and to Jim Crow laws, which segregated swimming pools,” wrote Jerry Brewer.
In The Washington Post, a black columnist wrote: “The statistics are startling: 68.9 percent of African American children had ‘low or no swim ability,’ according to a 2010 study commissioned by USA Swimming and conducted by the University of Memphis. For Hispanic children, the number was 57.9 percent. For Caucasians, it was 41.8 percent.”
the San Jose Mercury-News, took heat for an early headline not naming her. And NBC got grief for not showing her medal ceremony in a timely manner.
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