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Thu, 09.01.1904

The First Black Wins an Olympic Medal

George Poage

*On this date in 1904, the first Black Olympic medal winner was crowned. George Coleman Poage won a bronze medal in the third Olympic games in St. Louis, Missouri.

With less than 12 nations there, they celebrated the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase and the World's Fair that same year amid an undercurrent of racial uneasiness.  Black and white exhibits were mounted separately, and "colored" areas were apart from the others.

Many wanted Black athletes to boycott both the fair and the games, but Poage, a Wisconsin runner, elected to participate, becoming the first black athlete awarded a medal in a modern Olympiad.

With less than 500 athletes participating in the games, Poage ran for the Milwaukee Athletic Club (their first non-white competitor). He won bronze medals for finishing third in the 200-meter and 400-meter hurdles that day.


U.S. Olympic Training Center - Colorado Springs
National Headquarters
One Olympic Plaza
Colorado Springs, CO 80909
Tel: 719.632.5551

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