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Jesse Owens, the son of a sharecropper and grandson of a slave, achieved what no Olympian before him had accomplished. His stunning achievement of four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin has made him the best remembered athlete in Olympic history.
Jesse Owens’ quest to become the greatest track and field athlete in history thrusts him onto the world stage of the 1936 Olympics, where he faces off against Adolf Hitler’s vision of Aryan supremacy.
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The 1961 Freedom Rides, organized by CORE, were modeled after the organization’s 1947 Journey of Reconciliation. During the 1947 action, African-American and white bus riders tested the 1946 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Morgan v. Virginia that segregated bus seating was unconstitutional. The 1961 Freedom Rides sought to test a 1960 decision by the Supreme Court in Boynton v. Virginia that segregation of interstate transportation facilities, including bus terminals, was unconstitutional as well. A big difference between the 1947 Journey of Reconciliation and the 1961 Freedom Rides was the inclusion of women in the later initiative. In both actions, black riders traveled to the American South–where segregation continued to occur–and attempted to use whites-only restrooms, lunch counters and waiting rooms.
The original group of 13 Freedom Riders–seven African Americans and six whites– left Washington, D.C., on a Greyhound bus on May 4, 1961. Their plan was to reach New Orleans, Louisiana, on May 17 to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, which ruled that segregation of the nation’s public schools was unconstitutional. The group traveled through Virginia and North Carolina, drawing little public notice. The first violent incident occurred on May 12 in Rock Hill, South Carolina, where John Lewis (1940-), an African-American seminary student and influential member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a civil rights organization; white Freedom Rider and World War II (1939-45) Navy veteran Albert Bigelow (1906-93); and another African-American rider were viciously attacked as they attempted to enter a whites-only waiting area. The next day, the group reached Atlanta, Georgia, where some of the riders split off onto a Trailways bus.
The violence and arrests continued to garner national and international attention, and drew hundreds of new Freedom Riders to the cause. The rides continued over the next several months, and that fall, under pressure from the Kennedy administration, the Interstate Commerce Commission issued regulations prohibiting segregation in interstate transit terminals.
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Isaac Murphy rode in eleven Kentucky Derbies, winning three times: on Buchanan in 1884, Riley in 1890, and Kingman in 1891. Kingman was owned and trained by Dudley Allen, and is the only horse owned by an African-American to win the Derby. Murphy is the only jockey to have won the Kentucky Derby, the Kentucky Oaks, and the Clark Handicap in the same year (1884). He was called the “Colored Archer,” a reference to Fred Archer, a prominent English jockey at the time.
According to his own calculations Murphy won 628 of his 1,412 starts—a 44% victory rate which has never been equaled, and a record about which Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Arcaro said: “There is no chance that his record of winning will ever be surpassed.  By a later calculation of incomplete records his record stands at 530 wins in 1,538 rides, which still makes his win rate 34%. At its creation in 1955, Isaac Burns Murphy was the first jockey to be inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
Murphy died of heart failure in 1896 in Lexington, Kentucky, and over time his unmarked grave in African Cemetery No. 2 was forgotten. During the 1960s Frank B. Borries Jr., a University of Kentucky press specialist, spent three years searching for the grave site. In 1967, Murphy was reinterred at the old Man o’ War burial site. With the building of the Kentucky Horse Park, his remains were moved to be buried again next to Man o’ War at the entrance to the park.
Since 1995, the National Turf Writers Association has given the Isaac Murphy Award to the jockey with the highest winning percentage for the year in North American racing (from a minimum of 500 mounts).
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