Blazing a trail for young black swimmers
Sabir Muhammad was the first black swimmer to set an American record.
November 15th, 2012
07:45 AM ET

Blazing a trail for young black swimmers

By Moni Basu, CNN

Atlanta (CNN) - On the cinder-block wall in the manager's office of the Adamsville Natatorium are photos of two heroes: Martin Luther King Jr. and Sabir Muhammad.

Here, at this pool in a predominantly black neighborhood of southwest Atlanta, it's easy to see why Muhammad, 36, looms large.

He was the first black swimmer to set an American record. He broke U.S. short-course records in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle and finished his swimming career with seven Pac-10 championships titles, 25 All-American honors and three NCAA, U.S. Open and American records.

But perhaps more importantly, Muhammad helped shatter a myth that black people couldn't swim. FULL POST

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Filed under: Black in America • CNN Heroes • Sports • Where we live
October 31st, 2012
03:25 PM ET

German-born soccer stars choose to play for U.S. national team

In October, the U.S. men's national soccer team advanced to the final stage of qualifying for the World Cup, thanks in part to a half-dozen German-born players fathered by African-American soldiers in the U.S. military.

The choice to play for the U.S. men's national soccer team rather than the German team relates not just to their parents' homelands, but to their racial identities. Soccer player Danny Williams told his parents he felt more American than German.

“When people look at me in Germany, they know that I am not 100% German," Williams says.

Soledad O'Brien's documentary "Who is Black in America?"  airs at 8 p.m. ET/PT on December 9 on CNN.

October 16th, 2012
05:35 PM ET

Football punter outspoken on gay rights

(CNN) - Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe speaks to CNN's Poppy Harlow about politics, taxes and same-sex marriage. "It shouldn't be news when someone speaks out for equality," he said. "It should be news when someone speaks out against equality."

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Filed under: How we live • Sexual orientation • Sports
October 9th, 2012
02:15 PM ET

Hispanic racer Sergio Peña hopes to be NASCAR's next big thing

By Larry Lazo, CNN

(CNN) - Nineteen-year-old Sergio Peña is living his dream.

"You know, to be a race car driver - it almost doesn't seem real," he said. "It doesn't seem like a job at all. It's more like play to me."

Peña may say it feels like play, but his work ethic says otherwise.

"He is a very methodical, very calculated race car driver," said Kip Childress, director of NASCAR's K&N Pro Series East. "Sergio is a driver that uses a whole lot of thought behind the steering wheel."

Peña is from Virginia and is a first generation Colombian American. His love for racing started at age 4 when his father bought him a dirt bike.

Jai Peña saw early on that there was no turning back. "He loved it from day one," his father said.

Peña has been competing professionally since he was 13. Motocross, Go-Karts, Formula cars - he was game for anything. But his love for all things speed didn't come without a price.

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Filed under: How we live • Latino in America • Sports
Ted Williams paved the way for Miguel Cabrera's Triple Crown history
Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers won baseball's Triple Crown this season.
October 4th, 2012
04:55 PM ET

Ted Williams paved the way for Miguel Cabrera's Triple Crown history

By Cindy Y. Rodriguez, CNN

(CNN) - Miguel Cabrera of Venezuela, the Detroit Tigers' third baseman, is the first player since 1967 to win baseball's Triple Crown. But is he the first Latino to do so?

Detroit's Miguel Cabrera claims Triple Crown

Media outlets report that Cabrera is the first Latino to end a season leading the league in batting average, home runs and runs batted in. But many argue that Ted Williams, considered one of the greatest hitters in the history of baseball, was actually the first Hispanic to grab a Triple Crown.

The legendary Boston Red Sox left fielder won the Triple Crown - twice, in 1942 and 1947 - and was the first inductee in the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame in February 2002.

In his 1969 autobiography, “My Turn At Bat,” Williams said his heritage was part Mexican via his mother, May Venzor, though he rarely acknowledged it in public.

"(If) I had had my mother's name, there is no doubt I would have run into problems in those days, the prejudices people had in southern California," Williams wrote. FULL POST

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Gold medal sprinter teaches girls winning habits
Olympic Gold medal winner, Tianna Madison, is now helping young women gain crucial skills.
September 11th, 2012
03:00 PM ET

Gold medal sprinter teaches girls winning habits

Editor's note: We want to hear from you - what woman inspires you, and why? She could be another athlete, or a writer, an activist, or even your mom. Leave your suggestions, stories and memories in the comments section below and we'll feature the best on CNN.com.

By Wynn Westmoreland, for CNN

(CNN) - In the 4×100 sprint relay, it is the handoffs that decide the winner. Speed is important, but without a top-notch changeover, you're out. The maneuver is a perfectly orchestrated move performed in a split second without looking.

It's all about teamwork, something Tianna Madison knows a thing or two about. She was part of the U.S. team that won gold in the relay at the London Olympics, shattering the world record in the process.

Madison is now back in the U.S., using the lessons she learned on the track to help young girls learn their worth and make positive choices for the future.

As a role model, she is not shy to share her experiences - including the downs in her life: "I went from being World Champion long jumper in 2005, to nothing in the last seven years, to now being an Olympian.

"I dealt with a bankruptcy; I had my home foreclosed, and these were things that happened and I was not honest with myself about why I was in that situation," she said.

Crucially for her career, she realized that she couldn't deal with everything on her own. She was lucky enough to get help and support from her husband.

Building on this experience, she started Club 360, to give young women love and support, which they might not find elsewhere.

Read the full story

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Filed under: Gender • Girls • How we live • Sports
September 1st, 2012
01:32 PM ET

Florida's first female high school QB

(WSVN) - A 17-year-old senior is making history by becoming the first female in Florida to play quarterback on a football team.

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Filed under: Gender • Girls • Sports • Who we are
August 23rd, 2012
12:30 PM ET

Paralympics sailor: 'My disability is a gift'

By Sheena McKenzie, for CNN

London, England (CNN) - Not many people would see quadriplegia as a gift. But then, not many people are Paul Callahan.

As a 21-year-old Harvard University student, Paul's life was full of possibility. An undergraduate studying business at one of the best universities in the world, there was a lot to look forward to for the young man from Massachusetts.

Then a freak accident changed everything. Paul slipped on a wet floor, breaking his neck and rendering him paralyzed from the chest down. He retained the use of his arms, but not his hands.

Callahan spent the next five years traveling to rehabilitation centers across the United States in search of a way to walk again. When a doctor finally suggested it was time to concentrate on living instead of walking, Paul did exactly that.

Almost 30 years later, the 55-year-old father of two is now set to represent the United States in sailing at the Paralympics.

"It's an evolutionary process where you transition from one life to the other," Paul told CNN.

"I never gave up moving forward. You can define that as walking or being a contributing member of society. At 26 I chose the latter."

Read the full story

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August 21st, 2012
11:23 AM ET

Celebration, surprise, humor after Augusta National admits first women

What do you think of Augusta National's decision? Tell CNN iReport here

By Greg Botelho, CNN

(CNN) - The offices of SPARK, a nationwide coalition of girls-only programs, were abuzz Monday as news spread about Augusta National's decision to allow female members for the first time in its 80-year history.

"Shock" was a common sentiment, the organization's executive director said, not because the famed Augusta, Georgia, club finally decided to open its doors to another gender, but because they hadn't done so until now.

"The girls honestly were pretty surprised that Augusta had been discriminating against women like this," said Dana Edell, referring to the teenagers that comprise much of SPARK's staff. "They are horrified that (the club) could legally and blatantly (exclude women)."

Augusta National Golf Club admits first female members

Most of these girls were in elementary school when women's rights activist Martha Burk first ratcheted up public pressure on what was then probably America's best known men's-only club. Yet the majority of those women's rights activists responding to Monday's news were well aware of Augusta National's history and that of the decade-long fight to force it to reverse its policy, not to mention the even longer campaign for gender equality.

For them, hearing former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina businesswoman Darla Moore can now hang out in Augusta's clubhouse with corporate and other leaders from around the Southeast and nation was cause for celebration.

Burk admitted that her first reaction, upon hearing of Augusta National chairman Billy Payne's statement, was "we won - and we did."

Read the full story

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Augusta National Golf Club admits first female members
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was announced as one of the first two women given membership at Augusta.
August 20th, 2012
12:08 PM ET

Augusta National Golf Club admits first female members

By Mallory Simon, CNN

(CNN) –Augusta National Golf Club has admitted its first female members, the private club announced Monday.

The decision to admit former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and business executive Darla Moore of Lake City, South Carolina, ends a longstanding policy excluding women as members of the exclusive Georgia club, which hosts the Masters.

"This is a joyous occasion as we enthusiastically welcome Secretary Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore as members of Augusta National Golf Club," Billy Payne, chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament, said in a statement. "We are fortunate to consider many qualified candidates for membership at Augusta National. Consideration with regard to any candidate is deliberate, held in strict confidence and always takes place over an extended period of time. The process for Condoleezza and Darla was no different."

Rice served under President George W. Bush as the first female national security adviser and the first African-American woman to hold the post of secretary of state. She also served on President George H.W. Bush's National Security Council staff and was a special assistant to the director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1986. Moore is the vice president of Rainwater Inc., the investment firm founded by her husband, Richard Rainwater. Fortunate magazine once named her among the top 50 women in business, and the University of South Carolina's business school is named in her honor.

Payne noted the significance of admitting the first women to the club. Augusta's membership, which includes titans of industry and finance, has been male-only since its opening in 1932.

Read the full story on CNN's This Just In Blog

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Filed under: History • How we look • Sports • Who we are • Women
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