Ninety-year old former athlete, Herb Douglas, is the oldest living African-American olympic medalist. Douglas was part of the 1948 London Olympic Games during the Truman Administration.
As a student. Douglas took on major triumphs at the high school level. A city champ in tumbling, sprinting and basketball, he found a major voice in track and field. In 1940, Douglas set a school broad jump record that stood strong for 33 years.
Prior to Douglas’ Olympic appearance he helped Xavier University, an HBCU, win at the Penn Relays in 1942, a first for any HBCU. He qualified for the London Games, which were at the end of World War II. After clearing 24’ 9” in the long jump, then 26 year-old Douglas took the bronze medal back to the United States.
After he retired from athletics, Douglas worked for what is now Moet/Hennessey company and was the third black man in the country to reach the rank of Vice President for a national company. He stayed close the leaders of the civil rights era, including friends Medgar Evers, Andrew Young, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
In 1980, Douglas created the International Amateur Athletic Association to honor athlete Jesse Owens.
The memory of his 1948 win is seen on the walls of the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh. Douglas’ track shoes, jacket and photos are housed at the center.
Douglas plans to go to the London Games this year. One of his fondest memories is meeting President Obama who told him “I’m standing on your shoulders.”