William DeHart Hubbard was a track and field athlete who was the first African American to win an Olympic gold medal in an individual event – the running long jump at the 1924 Paris Summer games. He subsequently set a long jump world record of 25 feet 10 3⁄4 inches (7.89 m) at Chicago in June 1925 and equaled the world record of 9.6 seconds for the 100-yard dash at Cincinnati, Ohio, a year later.
Born in Cincinnati, Hubbard attended Douglas School and Walnut Hills High School. He then enrolled at the University of Michigan. He was a three-time National Collegiate Athletic Association champion and a seven-time Big Ten Conference champion in track and field.
In addition to graduating with honors, Hubbard’s 1925 outdoor long jump stood as the Michigan Wolverines team record until 1980, and it still stands second. His 1925 jump of 25 feet 3 1⁄2 inches (7.71 m) stood as a Big Ten Championships record until Jesse Owens broke it on with the current record of 26 feet 8 1⁄4 inches (8.13 m) in 1935.
Upon graduation, Hubbard worked at the Department of Colored Work for Cincinnati’s Public Recreation Commission before managing the Valley Homes housing project. While in the Queen City, he also founded the Cincinnati Tigers, a professional baseball team that played in the Negro American League.
In 1942, Hubbard moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he served as a race relations adviser for the Federal Housing Authority. Additionally, he was an avid bowler and served as the president of the National Bowling Association during the 1950s.
In 1957, Hubbard was elected to the National Track Hall of Fame. He was also a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., and a scholarship is established in his honor. He retired in 1969 and died in Cleveland in 1976.
The first African American female track and field Olympic gold medal winner from Cincinnati is Mary Wineberg Oly. Also, a graduate of Walnut Hills High School, Wineberg ran the first leg for the U.S. Women’s 4 × 400–meter relay team that won the gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Today, Mary lives in Cincinnati with her husband and two daughters. She is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc, and The Links, Incorporated.
The First 28, graciously sponsored by the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, celebrates Black Cincinnatians who were the first in their fields. Each day during Black History Month, we will celebrate athletes, artists, business leaders, civil rights activists, educators, physicians and politicians.
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