The winner of three gold medals in track at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, Wilma Rudolph has been portrayed and remembered across a wide range of settings and sites over the past half-century. As an African American female born into poverty whose childhood disability left her temporarily unable to walk without the aid of a leg brace, Rudolph captured our attention then and continues to fascinate new generations of children and adults alike. The markers of Rudolph s identity, joined with her athletic success, create a quintessential rags-to-riches tale, one repeatedly narrated over the decades.
"(Re)Presenting Wilma Rudolph" explores the major episodes and sites of memory across the track legend s life and death. Analyzing newspaper and magazine accounts, dozens of children s books, and a television movie, among other materials, Liberti and Smith highlight the range of ways meaning was constructed around Rudolph and her accomplishments on the track. Rather than a traditional biography, this book unpacks the collective memories we create and share about the Olympian. A close reading of the stories that are remembered and circulated about Rudolph not only underscore the athlete s agency but simultaneously minimize and even erase the ways in which racism and sexism impacted her life. The memorials honoring Rudolph tell us far more about the moment of their creation and the storytellers than they do about the track great."