Black Gymnasts in History 2017: Wendy Hilliard


Photo by Kenn Duncan

It is February 1, 2017

–So much going on today! It is the first day of Black History Month, Langston Hughes’ birthday, National Girls and Women in Sports Day, AND it is the first day of our 2nd annual Black Gymnasts in History series.

I will lead off the series today. I have a lot to celebrate- I am Black, a female athlete, and I was the first black rhythmic gymnast to represent the USA in international competition.

It is important to remember that to break barriers, to fight for inclusion and acceptance, to achieve equal access and rights for all Americans, takes a struggle – a constant and persistent fight to do the right thing.

My experiences led me to become an advocate. I had to stand up for myself as a Black gymnast and to stand up for the rights of all female athletes as the first Black and gymnast to serve as President of the Women’s Sports Foundation, and for over 20 years making sure underserved youth have access to exceptional gymnastics training in Harlem, NYC, and in my hometown of Detroit, Michigan.



It was tough but I always had support – God, my parents and family, their friends, my coaches, my friends and teammates, champion athlete mentors, the Women’s Sports Foundation, the Board of the WHGF, our sponsors, partners, donors, my staff, gymnastics students, and their parents – all have been there on this journey.



Here’s the lesson – the fight is always worth it!

We have some incredible superstar Black gymnasts, fierce female athletes and thousands of healthy kids cartwheeling their way to become strong and productive citizens.


“Let America be America where equality is in the air we breathe.” – Langston Hughes

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