My mother taught me very early to believe I could achieve any accomplishment I wanted to. The first was to walk without braces.
Wilma Glodean Randolph (6/23/40 to 11/12/94). She was born into a poor Clarksville, TN family, the twentieth of twenty-two children. Her birth weight was only 4.5 pounds, and she was a sickly child. This was in the early 40's. When it was noticed that Wilma's left left leg and foot were becoming deformed, her subsequent medical diagnosis was polio. Jonas Salk's miracle polio vaccine would not be around until the mid-fifties. For most, being diagnosed with polio was the same as receiving a death notice. Due to her mother’s refusal to accept the diagnosis as the end of the world, she drove fifty miles twice a week to a hospital in Nashville where Wilma learned to walk with a metal leg-brace. Her mother was taught how to give her physical therapy, and by age 12 she was able to walk without support. In high school she was a basketball star and set scoring records. Then she set, tackled and conquered track. In 1956 she won an Olympic bronze medal. In 1960 she became the first American woman to win three gold medals. Her hometown wanted to throw her a major celebration. Wilma insisted that the parade in her honor be attended by blacks and whites. At a banquet that evening, she made the same demand, and for the first time in the town of Clarksville, blacks and whites attended an event together. Her only defeat in life happened in 1994 when she could not combat brain cancer, and on November 12, it came to an end.