Tidye Pickett

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Tidye Pickett
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Personal information
Full nameTidye Ann Pickett
Sport Track and field

Tidye Pickett [1] (November 3, 1914 – November 17, 1986) [2] was an American track and field athlete. She represented the United States in the 80-meter hurdles at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, becoming the first African-American woman to compete in the Olympic Games. In 2016, the 1936 Olympic journey of the eighteen Black American athletes, including interviews with Pickett's family, was documented in the film Olympic Pride, American Prejudice . [3]


Picket was born in Chicago, Illinois, on November 3, 1914. [2] Her parents were Sarah Pickett, a factory clerk, and Louis Pickett, a foundry foreman. [4] She grew up in Englewood, a Chicago neighborhood. [5]

She took up running as a schoolgirl; after competing in some local meets she caught the attention of long jumper John Brooks, who began to coach her. [5] At the 1932 United States Olympic Trials Pickett competed in the 100-meter dash, winning her heat and placing third in her semi-final; she qualified for the final, where she placed sixth. [6] :77 [7] :183–184 Pickett was named to the American Olympic team as part of the eight-woman 4 × 100 meter relay pool; she and Louise Stokes, who was also part of the relay pool, were the first African-American women to be selected for the Olympic Games, [8] but both of them were left out of the final four-woman relay lineup that ran at the Olympics. [9] [10] Pickett and Stokes suffered racial discrimination during their Olympic trip; [8] whether racism also played a role in their omission from the Olympic relay is disputed and unclear. [9] [10]

Pickett continued her running career; in 1934 she ran the opening leg on a Chicago Park District team that set an unofficial world record of 48.6 in the 4 × 110 yard relay. [11] :294 At the 1936 United States Olympic Trials she competed in the 80-meter hurdles, placing second and qualifying for the Olympics in Berlin. [6] :86 At the Olympics, Pickett survived the heats but went out in the semi-finals, falling at the second hurdle and injuring herself; [7] :227 [6] :86 she was the first African-American woman, as well as the first Illinois State University athlete, to compete in the Olympic Games. [6] :86 [12]

Pickett later became a schoolteacher, serving as principal at an elementary school in East Chicago Heights until her retirement in 1980; when she retired, the school was renamed after her. [8] She died in Chicago Heights, Illinois, on November 17, 1986. [2]

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  1. Most sources indicate that Tidye was Pickett's official first name. Sports Reference gives her name as Theodora Ann "Tidye" Pickett, followed here. On January 12, 1920, the United States Census Bureau recorded her name as "Tidy Pickett". FamilySearch .
  2. 1 2 3 "Tidye Pickett". Sports Reference: Olympic Sports. Archived from the original on 2020-04-18. Retrieved 2017-03-30.
  3. Henderson, Odie (2016-08-05). "Olympic Pride, American Prejudice movie review (2016)". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 2021-04-11.
  4. "Fourteenth Census of the United States: 1920––Population". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2017-03-30.
  5. 1 2 Stout, Glenn (4 April 2011). Yes, She Can!: Women's Sports Pioneers. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN   9780547574097.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Hymans, Richard (2008). "The History of the United States Olympic Trials – Track & Field" (PDF). USA Track & Field. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 20, 2012. Retrieved October 20, 2015.
  7. 1 2 Tricard, Louise Mead (January 1996). American Women's Track and Field: A History, 1895 Through 1980, Volume 1. McFarland. ISBN   9780786402199 . Retrieved October 21, 2015.
  8. 1 2 3 Heise, Kenan (November 23, 1986). "Tidye Ann Phillips, Olympian And Principal". Chicago Tribune . Archived from the original on November 25, 2015. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  9. 1 2 "Book Reviews" (PDF). Journal of Olympic History. p. 46. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  10. 1 2 Wilson, Wayne. "Book Reviews" (PDF). Olympika: The International Journal of Olympic Studies. p. 138.
  11. Hymans, Richard; Matrahazi, Imre. "IAAF World Records Progression" (PDF) (2015 ed.). International Association of Athletics Federations . Retrieved October 20, 2015.
  12. "Tidye Ann Pickett-Phillips Bio". Illinois State University Official Athletic Site. Retrieved November 12, 2015.