Little Known Black History Fact: Harrison Dillard

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  • Attending the Olympic Games in London over the weekend was Harrison Dillard (a.k.a. “Bones), a 1948 black Olympic Gold Medalist. Dillard still holds the record of being the only man to win titles in both sprinting and hurdling events. It was because of Dillard’s close Olympic finish in the men’s 100-meter event that the “Photo Finish” was developed to determine the winner during track competitions.

    A former Buffalo Soldier of the 92nd infantry, Dillard continued to run track in the army, and qualified for the 1948 games. He carried admiration for his colleague Jesse Owens, who shared a high school alma mater with Dillard (East Technical High School in Cleveland, Ohio). He joined the other athletes in London that year, right after the war, lodging in old army barracks and eating rationed food flown in from the U.S. The city was still in a bit of ruins and the track was made from red brick rubble left after bombings.

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