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Tigerbelle: The Wyomia Tyus Story

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A timely memoir about world record–breaking Tyus’s 1964 and 1968 Olympic victories, amid the turbulence of the 1960s, along with contemporary reflections.

$15.95 $11.96

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Teaching Guide: Tigerbelle: The Wyomia Tyus Story

See below for a chapter-by-chapter Teaching Guide for Tigerbelle: The Wyomia Tyus Story by Wyomia Tyus and Elizabeth Terzakis. For a downloadable Word .doc version of the guide, please click here.  For a downloadable .pdf of this guide, please click here.

To request a complimentary desk copy of Tigerbelle, please email info@akashicbooks.com with the following:

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A. PRE-READING EXERCISES

These exercises are designed to be completed before your students begin reading Tigerbelle: The Wyomia Tyus Story, to build schema (background knowledge) about the themes and historical moments the book presents and raise questions about narrative structure and its impact on information. 

  1. BUILDING SCHEMA ON THE ERA (3 class periods or 1-2 class periods + HW)

BACKGROUND: Wyomia Tyus was born in Griffin, Georgia, in 1945, and her early life was shaped by the politics of that historical period.

SCHEMA ACTIVATION: Choose 2-3 terms from the list below and ask students to brainstorm or freewrite on the topic, listing or describing their pre-existing knowledge and then sharing it out with the class.

ASSIGNMENT: In groups, students do library or Internet research on as many of the following topics/concepts as make sense given class size, with each group assigned/allowed to choose one topic:

  1. Jim Crow
  2. The Ku Klux Klan
  3. Sharecropping/tenant farming
  4. The Cold War
  5. The International Olympic Committee under Avery Brundrage
  6. The history of Olympic competition
  7. 1964 Olympic Games, Tokyo, Japan
  8. 1968 Olympic Games, Mexico City, Mexico
  9. Historically Black Colleges and Universities/Tennessee State University
  10. Edward Stanley Temple
  11. Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR)
  12. Tommie Smith and John Carlos
  13. The Civil Rights/Black Power movements
  14. The Women’s Liberation Movement
  15. Title IX of the Education Amendments Act
  16. Billie Jean King

Students research their topic together at school or individually for homework and then share their findings with the help of a FACILITATOR. A RECORDER for each group collects the group’s findings into a single document. A PRESENTER reports out on each group’s findings. Alternatively, the instructor can make copies of each group’s report, distribute them to each group member, and organize JIGSAW discussions: form new groups composed of one member of each of the original groups and ask each representative to present from the group document and take questions.


  1. BUILDING SCHEMA ON GEOGRAPHY/INCREASING STUDENT ENGAGEMENT (1 class period)

BACKGROUND: Wyomia Tyus’s journey takes her from her hometown of tiny Griffin, Georgia, to cities in the United States including Atlanta, Georgia; Nashville, Tennessee; Gary, Indiana; Randall’s Island, New York; Los Alamos, New Mexico; and Los Angeles, California. She also leaves the US to travel to other countries, such as Russia, Poland, England, Japan, Mexico, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique. Each exposure to a new culture helps her to change and grow as an individual.

ASSIGNMENT: OPTIONS FOR ACTIVATING SCHEMA/LEARNING ABOUT GEOGRAPHY

  1. Distribute a map of the world handout with countries indicated. Students locate and mark all the states and countries Wyomia visited in the course of her journey.
  2. Distribute a map of the world or the United States with countries/states outlined but not named. Project an image of the map and ask students to share schema about where the countries/states are located. Write the country/state names onto the projected map and ask students to fill in their own maps. Students locate and mark all the states and countries Wyomia visited in the course of her journey.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Have you been to any of the places Wyomia visited? If so, which one(s)?
  2. If not, which of the stops on Wyomia’s journey would you most like to visit? Why?
  3. Have you ever traveled far from home to any destination? Where did you go? Why did you go there?
  4. Did seeing a new culture/another city, country, or state change the way you looked at the world? Yourself? Your home?
  5. What aspect of the new city/country was most different from your home?
  6. What aspects of the new city/country do you wish you could transplant into your home town?

  1. BUILDING SCHEMA ON WOMEN IN SPORTS (1 class period)

BACKGROUND: Wyomia Tyus grew up in a time when girls and women were either excluded from or not encouraged to participate in sports. Social norms suggested that sports were not “ladylike” and that girls and women should not be strong, fast, or competitive. This changed (somewhat) in 1972, when Congress passed the Educational Amendments Act. One section of this law, Title IX, prohibits discrimination against girls and women in federally funded education, including athletics, and mandated funding for girls’ and women’s sports programs in public schools for the first time. 

SCHEMA ACTIVATION: Ask students to brainstorm or freewrite on the history of women in sports/current events involving female athletes and have them share out with the class.

ASSIGNMENT: In groups or as a class, students discuss the following little-known facts about the history of women in sports.

1922 — Sybil Bauer became the first woman to break a men’s swimming record, finishing the 440-yard backstroke in a time of 6:24.8 (about four seconds ahead of the best men’s time). However, the record was considered “unofficial” since it took place at an “unsanctioned contest.”

1926 — Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim the English Channel, which she did in 14 hours, 31 minutes, beating the previous record, set by a man, by about 2 hours.

1948 — Alice Coachman broke the world high jump record to become the first Black woman to win an Olympic gold medal. In 1952, Coachman became the first African-American athlete to earn an endorsement deal when she was asked to be a spokesperson for Coca Cola.

1950 — Kathryn Johnston was the first girl to play Little League Baseball. She played first base for one season for the King’s Dairy team in Corning, New York, but then had to stop when she turned 13. After that, a rule—in force until 1974—prohibited girls from playing in Little League.

1956 — Althea Gibson won the French Open and became the first person of color to win a Grand Slam tennis title. In 1957, she won both Wimbledon and the US Nationals (now called the US Open), then won both again in 1958, and was voted Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press. In all, she won 11 Grand Slam tournaments, including six doubles titles.

1993 — Lynn Hill, a rock climber, made the first-ever free ascent of The Nose on El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, California.

2016 — During the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, after Katie Ledecky broke the women’s world record in the 800-meter freestyle by almost 12 seconds and won gold, the Bryan-College Station Eagle ran the following headline: “PHELPS TIES FOR SILVER IN FLY/Ledecky sets world record in women’s 800 freestyle.” Some said it made sense because Michael Phelps, the male swimmer, is more famous. Twitter user Nancy Leong felt differently, commenting: “This headline is a metaphor for basically the entire world.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Had you ever heard of any of the women mentioned above? If you have, how did you hear about them? If you have not, why do you think this is the case?
  2. Sybil Bauer broke the men’s 440 backstroke record by 4 seconds, a large margin in the world of competitive swimming. Yet, the result is “unofficial” because the meet was “unsanctioned.” Why are some contests sanctioned and others are not? Should Bauer’s record “count”?
  3. When Gertrude Ederle beat the best men’s time by two hours, it was official, and yet most people think that men are always and have always been stronger and faster than women. Why do you think this is?
  4. Before 1988, an impediment to all United States Olympic athletes, female and male, Black and white, was the fact that they could not accept money or gifts worth more than $50 US without compromising their status as “amateurs” and being banned from Olympic competition—note that Alice Coachman did not become a Coca Cola spokesperson until after her Olympic career had ended. Meanwhile, in other countries, the government funds the training of Olympic athletes. In your mind, for whom are Olympic athletes competing, themselves or their countries or both? Who should pay to support their training, the athletes themselves, the governments they represent, or corporations? In each case, why do you think this is how it should be?
  5. Why do you think Little League Baseball made a rule to exclude girls right after Kathryn Johnston’s successful participation in the League?
  6. Many people have heard of Serena and Venus Williams, world-renowned African-American tennis players, but fewer know that Althea Gibson preceded them as a Black tennis champion by almost fifty years. What difference might it have made to women’s tennis in the United States if more people had known about Gibson?
  7. The last two examples occurred after Title IX was passed. What has changed? What has stayed the same?

  1. BUILDING SCHEMA ON GENRE AND THE NATURE OF NARRATIVE (1 class period + HW)

BACKGROUND: Tigerbelle: The Wyomia Tyus Story was a collaborative project between its subject, Wyomia Tyus, and her co-author, Elizabeth Terzakis. The book can be seen as a transcription of oral history, as its production involved extensive interviews of Tyus that were then typed up by Terzakis. It can also be described as a memoir, an autobiography, or a work of creative nonfiction as it frequently breaks into scenes and dialogue recreated (as accurately as possible) from memory and is told with attention to building narrative drama, addressing certain themes, and offering Tyus’s present-day reflections on her experiences rather than recording every detail of the place and time in which it is set. At the very beginning of the project, the authors considered writing a standard biography.

SCHEMA ACTIVATION: Ask students if they have ever read a biography, autobiography, or memoir before and to share how they felt about the experience.

ASSIGNMENTS

GENERAL: For homework, ask students to find definitions for each of the genres mentioned above: oral history, memoir, autobiography, creative nonfiction, and biography. In class, discuss the similarities and differences, pros and cons of each of the different genres.

SPECIFIC DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

For each question, ask students to record their initial impressions and either collect their responses or ask the students to save them. After students have read part/all of the book, revisit these answers and see if any of them have changed/turned out differently than expected.

  1. Which of these genres seems most useful to you? What kind of information, and what approach to information, best suits your reading style and preferences?
  2. Does any of these genres lend itself better to conveying specific kinds of information? For example, which genre would most likely contain careful accounts of races won and records set? Which would allow you the clearest picture of what daily life was like in a particular place and during a particular period?
  3. This book is based on the real-life experiences of a living woman. How does this fact impact your approach to the material? Do you feel differently about reading a book based on reality than you do about reading a work of fiction/make believe?
  4. If you were to write the story of your life, which genre would you choose? Why?
  5. The book’s co-author, Elizabeth Terzakis, is white, was born one year after Tyus won her first gold medal and came of age after the Civil Rights Movement. Thus, she never experienced life in Jim Crow America, and, even if she had, would have experienced it from a white rather than a Black perspective. How might her perspective impact the narrative?
  6. Tigerbelle is a narrative told from the first-person perspective of Wyomia Tyus, but the introduction and footnotes were written by Elizabeth Terzakis and are in from her perspective and in her voice. How do the two the two authors’ perspectives different? How are their voices different? That is, do the tone and diction used in the introduction and footnotes differ from the tone and diction in the main narrative? How so? Be as specific as you can.

WRITING PROMPTS

  1. ORAL HISTORY: Ask students to describe an event in their lives as objectively and accurately as possible while another student records/transcribes it. Write a response that evaluates 1) the accuracy of the story as it is told by the participant; 2) the accuracy of the transcription as captured by the listener; 3) the credibility of the account as an element of history. What are its strengths? What are its potential weaknesses?
  2. AUTOBIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR: Ask students to write an account of an event in their lives as objectively and accurately as possible then record their reflections on 1) the significance of the event at the time from their perspective at the time; 2) the significance of the event from their current perspective; 3) the continuing significance of the event (if any).
  3. CREATIVE NONFICTION: Ask students to dramatize an event in their lives with dialogue and descriptive detail then record their reflections on how these additional details impact the import of the narrative and its impact on the reader. Does the dramatization make the account less “true”? If “truth” is sacrificed, what is gained?
  4. BIOGRAPHY/HISTORY: Introduce students to the concept of primary versus secondary and tertiary sources. Ask students to choose an event that occurred during the period covered by Tigerbelle (1945-2017). If they wanted to write an accurate account of this event, where would they start and of what resources would they make use? Which sources do they consider the most valuable and why? 

B. EARLY READING EXERCISES

BACKGROUND: Section D of this guide provides four levels of questions for each chapter:

LEVEL ONE questions are designed 1) to increase active reading by creating expectations about the text; and 2) to ensure that students are picking up on the facts presented. Level One questions (for the most part) have finite, inarguable answers.

LEVEL TWO questions require inferencing and interpretation to answer and are focused on figurative language, implicit localized meaning, and the drawing together of information from different parts of the text for interpretation.

LEVEL THREE questions are designed to encourage engagement with the text by asking students to evaluate the actions and decisions of the characters in the narrative on the basis of the students’ own values and beliefs as well as to put themselves into the characters’ perspectives.

LEVEL FOUR questions are designed to encourage additional research by pointing to information that is not included in the text. 

  1. AFTER READING THE INTRODUCTION: GENERATING SCHOLARLY QUESTIONS
  • Define/explain the four levels of questions to students.
  • Ask students to pre-read chapter 1 (skim, mark vocabulary words, examine illustrations, etc.).
  • Ask each student to formulate one example of each level of question based on their reading of the introduction and their pre-reading of chapter 1.
  • Share questions and encourage students to use the questions to activate their reading and to repeat this exercise before reading each chapter.
  1. AFTER READING THE INTRODUCTION AND CHAPTER 1: IDENTIFYING THEMES

Tigerbelle’s narrative spans fifty years, covers the breadth of the continental United States, and allows its readers to visit four different continents and get a glimpse of their cultures through the eyes of an extraordinary woman. Throughout the book, different themes are examined and re-examined as the book’s subject, Wyomia Tyus, grows, changes, and matures. Below is a list of the more prominent themes in the book, some of which, like identity and intersectionality, come up in every chapter while others, such as hair and nature, are found more intermittently.

Identity                                               Community                                                Activism/Movement building
Voice                                                  Hair/Beauty Standards                                Patriotism
Race                                                   Education                                                   Competition vs. Support
Class                                                  Personal Growth                                         Amateur vs. Professional
Gender                                               Work                                                           Stereotyping
Intersectionality                                  Nature                                                        Travel

ASSIGNMENT

After students have read the introduction and chapter 1, provide them with a definition of theme and ask them to identify as many themes as they can then fill in the list with the themes provided above. Encourage students to choose a particular theme of themes on which to focus as they read and notice the different ways in which the theme is taken up in successive chapters. 


C. WRITING PROMPTS

LANGUAGE ARTS/ENGLISH COMPOSITION

  1. ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION: A theme is a recurring idea, topic, or image. Analyze Tigerbelle: The Wyomia Tyus Story for themes. What themes are present? Which details (dialogue, actions, characters descriptions, settings, narrative information, etc.) represent each theme? Choose ONE theme and interpret its significance using details from the beginning, middle, and end of the book. Your introduction should include an argumentative thesis that draws an original conclusion about the theme, details from the book to demonstrate the way the theme is treated, and explanation of how you interpret each detail as well as how each detail helps to prove your thesis.
  2. DEFINITION, SUMMARY, AND ANALYSIS: What does the phrase “American Dream” mean to you? Provide a detailed definition. Is Wyomia Tyus’s story an example of someone bringing the American Dream to life? Why or why not? Your essay should include an argumentative thesis that expresses your view on whether Tyus’s story is an example of the American Dream or not and body paragraphs that provide specific reasons why you think it is or isn’t as well as details from the book that demonstrate those reasons.
  3. A SHERO’S JOURNEY: In her blurb for the book, tennis player Billie Jean King states that “Wyomia Tyus has earned her place in the pantheon of American sports sheroes and heroes.” Analyze Tyus’s story according to the structure of “The Hero’s Journey.” Familiarize yourself with the twelve plot points of “The Hero’s Journey”:

    1. The Ordinary World;
    2. The Call to Adventure
    3. Refusal of the Call
    4. Meeting with Mentor
    5. Crossing the First Threshold
    6. Tests, Allies, and Enemies
    7. Approach to the Innermost Cave
    8. Ordeal, Death, and Rebirth
    9. Reward: Seizing the Sword
    10. The Road Back
    11. Resurrection
    12. Return with Elixir

    Does Tigerbelle follow or depart from this narrative structure? Your introduction should include an argumentative thesis that states whether you think the text represents an example of The Hero’s Journey structure or not. Your body paragraphs should compare and contrast different moments of the text to the plot points of The Hero’s Journey. Is Tigerbelle a good example of this genre? How does it differ from it? How are those differences significant?

  4. COMPARE AND CONTRAST: Although Wyomia Tyus is clearly the subject of the text, she dedicates a lot of time and attention to Mr. Temple and the other Tigerbelles. Compare and contrast Wyomia’s narrative arc to that of Mr. Temple or one (or some combination) of the other female athletes mentioned. Why are they more or less successful at achieving their goals? What factors (talent, luck, willpower, help from others) are crucial to their success or failure?
  5. NARRATIVE VS. REFLECTION: The first eleven chapters of Tigerbelle are for the most part chronologically organized, summarizing and narrating the most significant moments of Wyomia’s life from her childhood to her retirement. Chapters twelve through fourteen, on the other hand, reflect upon and analyze three topics that relate to Wyomia’s life: Mr. Temple’s legacy; Black women in sports; and the movement for racial justice over time. How are the language and tone of these chapters similar to/different from the more narrative chapters? Are they easier or more difficult to understand? Easier or more difficult to relate to? Your introduction should include a thesis that makes a general statement about the similarities and differences between these different kinds of writing. Your body paragraphs should explore how the two different formats convey information.
  6. GENERATE YOUR OWN LEVEL TWO OR THREE QUESTION: Sometimes the only way to answer a Level Two or Three question (as defined in section B above) is by writing an essay—especially if said question is directed at the entire text. Guide students in generating questions, based on their own areas of interest and focus, that will require them to formulate an original conclusion and draw supporting details from various sections of the book. For example, a Level Three question that is a) likely to produce a variety of answers and b) would require drawing evidence from multiple chapters of the book is “Was Mr. Temple a good coach?” A Level Two question likely to generate equally various and complex answers is “Which of Wyomia’s experiences was the most important to her growth?”
  7. EXTRA CREDIT: FIGURES HIDDEN EVERYWHERE: In her foreword to the book, television talk show host Joy Reid describes Tigerbelle: The Wyomia Tyus Story as “the Hidden Figures of Olympic legend,” referencing the popular movie and book (both released in 2016) that (finally) filled in the American public on the critical role of Black women in the space program. Some five years earlier, Rebecca Skloot had published The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the story of yet another Black woman whose pioneering story was left untold for more than fifty years. For extra credit, read one (or both) of these books and compare and contrast chosen aspects of the stories of the Black women they depict to Wyomia Tyus’s story in Tigerbelle. For example, what obstacles did the women face? Were they similar or different? How were they able to overcome those obstacles? How were their contributions significant to the United States as a nation? How was the Cold War significant to what they did and how their accomplishments were treated? Did location make a difference? What is the lasting impact of their accomplishments?

SOCIAL STUDIES/HISTORY

  1. RESEARCHING THE CONTEXT: Section D of this guide provides suggestions for further research for each chapter (Level Four questions) specifically designed to flesh out the historical and political context of the events presented. Guide students in determining which of these suggested areas of research is rich enough to produce an essay of whatever length is required. For example, “What was Jim Crow and how did it shape Wyomia Tyus’s early life?” or “What was the Cold War and how did it affect US athletes in international competitions?”
  2. WHOSE HISTORY? On the last page of chapter 8, Wyomia notes that “…every time they talk about the 100 meters, they have to mention my name. Maybe just softly. Maybe just once. But they have to. They can’t leave you out of history you’ve made. Somebody is going to find it and write about it and say something about it. If they want to talk about history and be taken seriously, they can’t lie” (184). Refer to history books you have read in school to determine from whose perspective is history recorded and taught in the United States. Use citations from these histories to support your claim. Why might a historian who occupies this perspective mention Wyomia’s name “just softly” or “just once”? Does her story make a valuable contribution to United States history? For which groups of people might it have the most value? What does an interrogation of perspectives and the priorities they produce reveal about the possibility of objectivity in writing history?
  3. LAW AND CULTURE: Title IX of the Education Amendment Act was signed into law in 1972 and states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” How might Wyomia and the other Tigerbelles have benefited if such a law were in place when they were becoming athletes? What opportunities opened up for women in sports after the law was passed? Cite specific programs and sports teams that came into being in the wake of the legislation. Has the growth of women’s sports programs impacted US culture more generally? In what ways? Be specific. Do you think the passing of Title IX had an impact on your life?
  4. WHERE HISTORY STARTS: Tyus and Terzakis refer to Sports Illustrated stories several times in the course of the narrative, generally in a critical way (see Introduction, chapter 3, and chapter 7). Examine the references made to the magazine in the book and find the actual articles (they are available online; see list of resources at the end of this guide). Then find articles about women and sports that Sports Illustrated has published more recently. Compare and contrast the kind of information presented. Has the magazine’s perspective changed over time? Did the articles from the 1960s merely reflect prevailing social norms or did they help to construct them? What about the more recent articles? How might an analysis of the magazine’s current perspective shed light on the impact of its stories on the past? 

D. GUIDED READING AND DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 

See above (the beginning of section B, Early Reading Exercises) for an explanation of the different question levels. Note that there are questions at each level and for each chapter that touch on the themes listed in section B-2. 

FOREWORD BY JOY REID

LEVEL ONE

  1. Who is Joy Reid?
  2. Why were the Olympics important to Reid when she was growing up?
  3. Why was seeing Black women athletes compete particularly significant to Reid?
  4. According to Reid, who is Wilma Rudolph?
  5. Why is the telling of Wyomia Tyus’s story so crucial to Reid?

LEVEL TWO

  1. According to Reid: “Tommie Smith and John Carlos turned the 1968 Olympics Games upside down with their fist-in-the-air protest.” What does Reid mean when she writes that their action “turned the Games upside down”?
  2. Reid notes that the 1968 Games “loomed large in the Black Pride origin story in our house.” How do you interpret these metaphors? That is, what is suggested by the fact that the Games “loomed large” and what does Reid mean by a “Black Pride origin story”?
  3. Reid uses simile to describe each new addition to her awareness of history as being “like a lucky coin” and uses metaphor to refer to Wyomia Tyus’s story as “such a coin.” What does her use of figurative language suggest about the value of these stories and why do you think she chose to use this language rather than more straight-forward language?
  4. Why does Reid think that Tyus’s story is one that “every Black girl, every athlete, and every American should know”?
  5. As stated at the end of the foreword, “Joy Reid is the host of MSNBC’s AM Joy. She is also the author of the book Fracture: Barack Obama, the Clintons, and the Racial Divide.” Given this information, why do you think Reid was asked to write a foreword to the book? What does it suggest about the authors’ perspectives?

LEVEL THREE

  1. Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s 1968 protest could be seen as a forerunner of protests currently being carried on by professional athletes such as Colin Kaepernick, Michael Bennett, and the entire Women’s National Basketball Association Indiana Fever team, all of whom have protested the shooting of unarmed Black youth by police by “taking a knee” during the national anthem. What is your opinion about the relationship between protest and sports?
  2. Did the Olympic Games play any role in how you saw yourself and/or your country when you were growing up? If the Games had an impact on you, was it mostly positive, mostly negative, or just neutral? If the Games had no impact on you, why do you think that is?
  3. How do the categories of race and gender intersect in Reid’s description of her experience as a Black female athlete?
  4. Based on your own ideas about gender, race, and sports, why do you think it has taken so long for Wyomia Tyus’s story to come into print?
  5. Drawing from your interpretation of Reid’s perspective based on what she writes in the foreword and the title of her previously published book, do you think that her perspective is similar to/different from your own?

LEVEL FOUR

  1. Reid mentions Tommie Smith, John Carlos, Arthur Ashe, Muhammad Ali, and Wilma Rudolph very briefly. Who were they and why are they appropriate reference points for introducing the story of Wyomia Tyus?
  2. What is the origin of the expression “I’m Black and I’m proud!”?
  3. Who were some of the other Black women who “toiled in the trenches of the Civil Rights Movement in anonymity”?
  4. Wyomia Tyus was the first runner ever to win a gold medal in the 100 meters in two consecutive Olympics. How long did it take before her accomplishment was repeated or exceeded? Who were the athletes who followed in her footsteps?

INTRODUCTION BY ELIZABETH TERZAKIS

LEVEL ONE

  1. Wyomia (pronounced Weye-OH-mee) placed first in the 100 meters in the 1968 Summer Olympics. Which runners placed second and third?
  2. How does Olympic medalist Dwight Stones describe Tyus?
  3. Why did Tyus dance the “Tighten Up” as she was getting into the starting blocks? How did her doing so impact her competitors?
  4. What were some of the other political and historical events that occurred in 1968?
  5. In addition to winning a gold medal in the 100 meters, Tyus won gold in another race. What was the race and to whom did she dedicate her medal?
  6. Where did Wyomia go to college and who was her coach? How many runners did her coach’s program send to the Olympics and how many of them were medalists?
  7. How did Jim Crow laws and racial and gender oppression affect Tyus’s early life?
  8. What percentage of the women on Tyus’s team graduated from college?
  9. With whom did Tyus form the Women’s Sports Foundation?
  10. In addition to being a story about “athletic greatness,” what else, according to Terzakis, does Tyus’s story offer to readers?

LEVEL TWO

  1. What does the fact that Tyus danced the “Tighten Up” to the starting blocks say about her as a competitor?
  2. How does Dwight Stones’s description of Tyus relate to gender expectations of the time?
  3. How could the Mexican government think that the massacre of protesting students ten days before the Olympic Games would make the country more “presentable” for Olympic visitors?
  4. What was the “significance of Black athletes in the context of the Cold War”?
  5. Why did Tyus dedicate her second gold medal to Tommie Smith and John Carlos even though they had not included her or any other women in the organizing of the Olympic Project for Human Rights?
  6. On pages 18-19, Terzakis notes that “[w]hen asked if she considered the possible consequences of her action,” Tyus responded: “At that point, I knew that I was going to be me, and whatever else was going to happen was going to happen.” What do you think Tyus meant by this statement?
  7. Why did Tyus prefer playing with the boys?
  8. On page 21, Terzakis writes that the cover of Sports Illustrated’s April 20, 1964, issue is “[a] breathtaking testament to the interlocking powers of racism and sexism” that “effortlessly erases the accomplishments of Black female athletes while simultaneously mocking the aspirations of white female athletes.” Explain. Why do you think the editors at Sports Illustrated chose to put the “Bouffant Belles” on the cover instead of the athletes that were actually favored to go to the Olympics?
  9. How is calling a marriage proposal “’an even bigger prize’ than Chinese diver He Li’s silver medal” an example of gender oppression? Why might it be considered racist to confuse two Black gymnasts?
  10. On page 23, Terzakis writes that “the experience of Black women athletes in particular has been neglected by sportswriters and sports historians for as long as women have competed, much to the detriment of each successive generation of Black female athletes.” How might a lack of information about the Black female athletes of the past negatively affect Black female athletes of the present?

LEVEL THREE

  1. By dancing the “Tighten Up,” Tyus psyched out her opponents. Is this “fair”? In your mind, what role does psychology play in athletic competition?
  2. On page 17, Terzakis notes the impact of world political events on the athletes competing in the 1968 Olympics. In your mind, can the Olympics—or any other international sports competition—be completely free of political significance? Should they be?
  3. Tyus dedicated her gold medal in the 4×100 relay to Tommie Smith and John Carlos despite the fact that they did not include her or other female athletes in the initial organizing of the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR). Was this the right thing to do? Why or why not?
  4. Terzakis writes that “Tyus’s parents had a vision: that their children should be children and not have to shoulder the responsibilities of adulthood until they were grown.” When do you think children should be introduced to “adult” concerns? Why?
  5. Under coach Ed Temple, Tennessee State’s track and field program sent 40 athletes to the Olympics, earned 23 Olympic medals, and had a 99 percent graduation rate. Which of these statistics is the most impressive to you, the Olympic victories or the number of graduates? Why?
  6. Was the Sports Illustrated editors’ decision to put the “Bouffant Belles” on the cover of their magazine in 1964 instead of the actual Olympic hopefuls justifiable? On what grounds?
  7. Should Michael Phelps be given top billing over Katie Ledecky even though she won a gold and he only tied for silver? Why or why not?
  8. Is it important to you that gaps in the historical record be filled? If so, why do you think accurate history is important?

LEVEL FOUR

  1. Wyomia Tyus has been credited for introducing pre-race dancing to the Olympics. Have any other runners used this tactic since? What was the effect?
  2. What was the Tet Offensive and why did it increase domestic opposition to the American war in Vietnam?
  3. How did the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. impact the movements for civil rights and Black Power?
  4. Why was 1968 such a big year for student protests around the world?
  5. What was the Olympic Project for Human Rights?
  6. Are there still pay differentials for male and female athletes?
  7. Is the Women’s Sports Foundation still active and what does it do?
  8. If you were to write a history of US sports, which Black female athletes would you include?

CHAPTER 1 | SUSTER: WALKING THE FARM

LEVEL ONE

  1. What were the names of Wyomia’s parents and where did they work?
  2. When and where was Wyomia born?
  3. How many brothers did Wyomia have, what were their names, and what do you know about each of them?
  4. What was Wyomia’s home like? How was it different from the home of Ben Brown, the white man who owned the farm? Did she have her own room?
  5. What kinds of chores did Wyomia and her brothers have to do?
  6. What is Wyomia’s “favorite remembrance”?
  7. Why did Wyomia fight with the sons of her white neighbors?
  8. How was Wyomia’s experience different from that of the Black people who lived in town?
  9. How did Wyomia feel about playing with dolls? Wearing dresses? Playing “girls’” games? How did Wyomia’s teachers feel about her playing with the boys?
  10. What happened on Tyus’s fourteenth birthday?

LEVEL TWO

  1. At the beginning of the chapter, Wyomia provides a lot of detail about her parents’ personalities, what the family ate, the things they did together, and the layout of their house and the property on which they lived. What is she trying to convey about their life?
  2. Why didn’t Willie Tyus Senior want any of his children to do “any kind of grown-up, paid work”?
  3. On page 35, Willie Tyus Senior tells Wyomia and Junior: “This is what nature is about: it’s about freedom.” Based on Willie’s observations before and after this statement, what do you think he means by this? How is “nature” about “freedom,” according to Willie?
  4. What did the new neighbors mean when they said, “I’m not going to play with you people”?
  5. Why did Wyomia’s brothers have Wyomia fight with the neighbors who insulted them instead of doing it themselves?
  6. Many of the students at Wyomia’s school disappeared during cotton-picking time and were gone for a month or two. What does this suggest about Wyomia’s father’s determination to not have his children work? What does it suggest about intersection of class and education?
  7. On page 39, Wyomia notes that, at the time, “girls did girl things, and boys did boy things.” How did these rules affect Wyomia? Did she benefit from not being a “typical” girl? How did the rules affect the girls growing up around her? Why do you think it was so important to her teachers (and others) that these rules be followed?
  8. On page 40, Wyomia writes that, “During the Jim Crow era, Black women were less than second-class citizens, and they had to work—they had to work hard. But at the same time, they were supposed to be good in the kitchen; they were supposed to be nurturing and dainty and all that. Those things were not in my psyche.” What does Wyomia mean by the last sentence of this quote? Does her mother—or any of the other women mentioned in the chapter—meet the demands of Black womanhood as Wyomia describes them? How were gender expectations different/the same for Black girls and white girls?
  9. Why was the fire that destroyed their family’s farmhouse so devastating to Wyomia’s father? On page 46, Wyomia notes that her father’s secretary, which is a kind of desk in this case, was not rescued from the fire. What does this piece of furniture represent to Willie?
  10. At the end of the chapter, Wyomia notes that the fire and her father’s death “made me break. I just went totally inside myself.” What does this mean for her, exactly?

LEVEL THREE

  1. Would you describe the Tyus’s life before the fire as a good life? If you think it is a mix, say which parts you think were good and which parts not.
  2. Was Willie right to prioritize education over work for his children?
  3. In talking about nature, Wyomia’s father Willie tells his children: “This is all out there for you, this beauty, this freedom, this is how life is supposed to be—beautiful, calm, and serene.” Is this how you see nature? What might Willie have been contrasting to nature? That is, if nature is how life it supposed to be, what is its opposite?
  4. Why do you think the white people allowed their sons to play with the Black children but not their daughters? What does this suggest about the intersection of race and gender oppression?
  5. Wyomia notes that Black women were required to work hard and be strong at the same time that they were expected to be “feminine” (“nurturing” and “dainty”). What does this suggest about the intersection of race and gender oppression? Are women in general and Black women in particular still expected to meet these expectations?
  6. In your mind, how important is it for girls and boys, women and men, to do different things? Are gender differences social or natural?

LEVEL FOUR

  1. Where is Griffin, Georgia, and what was it like/is it like in terms of population, economy, and race relations? How has it changed since Wyomia lived there and how has it stayed the same?
  2. What is meant by “Jim Crow”?
  3. What percentage of school-aged children worked in the fields when Wyomia was growing up? How much did they work, what kind of work did they do, and how were they paid? How does the percentage of children who worked compare to the percentage that got an education?
  4. What were typical occupations for Black women at that time? For Black men? How did these compare to the occupations of white women and white men? To the occupations of members of other minority groups?

CHAPTER 2 | “YOU JUST RAN YOURSELF INTO SOME SHOES…”

LEVEL ONE

  1. Why did Wyomia start playing basketball and running track?
  2. How was girls’ basketball different from boys’ basketball?
  3. Why was Wyomia so good at sports? What personality trait was most important to Wyomia’s being a successful competitor? What was her attitude about getting knocked down or losing?
  4. Why didn’t school officials want Wyomia to go to the meet at Tuskegee University, even though she had qualified? According to Wyomia, why didn’t Frances Dallas qualify?
  5. What impediments did Wyomia imagine would keep her from going to Nashville? How did they raise the money for Wyomia to go?
  6. What were the most important aspects of Mr. Temple’s program? Why did Wyomia’s mother want her to participate in the program?
  7. What were Mr. Temple’s practices like? Who helped Wyomia the most when it came to figuring out how to get better at running?
  8. How did Mr. Temple get track shoes for all the girls who needed them?
  9. Why did Wyomia want to go home to Griffin? Why wouldn’t her mother let her?
  10. How did Wyomia do in the Amateur Athletic Union Championships in Gary, Indiana? How did Mr. Temple reward her?

LEVEL TWO

  1. Think about everything that you learned about Wyomia in chapter 1. What elements in Wyomia’s background enabled her to keep getting up after she got knocked down?
  2. Why would having a boyfriend keep Frances Dallas from qualifying to run at Tuskegee?
  3. On page 53, Wyomia mentions that she saw Edith McGuire for the first time at the Fort Valley meet but would not find out until later, when they were at Tennessee State University together, that Edith had also lost her father at any early age and her family home to a fire. This is an example of foreshadowing, some of it very direct (they will be at Tennessee State together) and some of it less so. What do you think might happen when Wyomia and Edith are at Tennessee State together? What makes you think so?
  4. Why is Wyomia initially convinced that she should not go to Nashville for the summer program? What might her underlying emotions be?
  5. What does the fact that Miss Jessie Lee went to college and had sent her children to college have to do with Wyomia’s mother asking her to be with them when Mr. Temple came to pitch his program?
  6. Why did Wyomia’s mother think that being in Mr. Temple’s program will help her get out of her “slump”?
  7. Why do you think Coach Kimbrough and all the clubs at Wyomia’s high school were willing to chip in to help her go to the summer program in Nashville?
  8. On page 59, Wyomia mentions that her father would never let her have straight hair. Why do you think this is? Why would how she wears her hair matter to her father?
  9. Where in the chapter is it foreshadowed that Wyomia will “run herself into a new pair of shoes”? Why was getting new shoes so significant to her?
  10. On page 67, Wyomia discusses what enabled her to get through the end of the program successfully, saying that she “just kind of let go.” Explain what you think she means by this and how it helped her.

LEVEL THREE

  1. Based on your own understanding of parenting, was Marie being a good mother when she allowed Wyomia to leave home for Mr. Temple’s program? Why or why not? What about when she wouldn’t let Wyomia come home?
  2. Although the Tyus’s never had much money or many material things, there is no mention in the book of financial hardship until Wyomia wants to go to Nashville. Why do you think this is? Compare and contrast Wyomia’s life on the dairy farm to her life after moving to the apartment in Griffin. In your opinion, what were the most significant differences?
  3. Marie’s friend Miss Jessie Lee has gone to college; Marie has not. How do you think this fact will impact Wyomia once she gets to college?
  4. What do you think of Mr. Temple’s training tactics? Is he a good coach? Why or why not?
  5. By the end of the chapter, it seems as if Wyomia has indeed come out of her “slump.” What factors do you think were the most important in enabling her to do so? List as many as you can think of.

LEVEL FOUR

  1. On page 52, Wyomia mentions Tuskegee University. What is special about Tuskegee? Who were George Washington Carver, The Tuskegee Airmen, and Alice Marie Coachman?
  2. What is special about Tennessee State University? What prominent people besides Wyomia went there to get their education?
  3. Who was Ed Temple? You might want to start finding out by watching this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hV5yMIJLno.

CHAPTER 3 | “NOW RUN YOURSELF INTO A TIGERBELLE T-SHIRT!”

LEVEL ONE

  1. Why did Wyomia’s great aunts want her to stop running track? Were their fears justified?
  2. Where does Wyomia go in 1962 and how does she feel about it? Why was it so exciting?
  3. What happens after Wyomia returns to the summer program for the third time?
  4. In the summer of 1963, Wyomia qualifies for her first international meet. Where did she go and what happened there?
  5. Why didn’t Wyomia like the coach, “Flamin’ Mamie,’” who accompanied the international team?
  6. When Wyomia first got to Tennessee State, what was she like as a student? How did Mr. Temple help her become a better student? What did she do for herself?
  7. Why was it so important to Mr. Temple that his athletes be “ladylike”? What did being ladylike mean?
  8. What were some different ways a Tigerbelle could contribute to the team?
  9. Why was it difficult for Mr. Temple to get money for his team from the school? List as many reasons as you can.
  10. Why did some of the athletes dislike Mr. Temple? What was one thing about which Wyomia and Mr. Temple disagreed?

LEVEL TWO

  1. On page 70, Wyomia notes that, regardless of what her aunts said or her mother thought, she wasn’t going to stop running. Why do you think she had become so attached to the sport?
  2. What do Wyomia’s aunts’ comments add to the picture of gender expectations presented by the book? Having read this far, what do you think was the norm for the “perfect” woman?
  3. Would Wyomia have been able to go to college without a work-study scholarship? What does this suggest about the accessibility of higher education at the time?
  4. Why wouldn’t the Russians let the US athletes’ plane land?
  5. Why do you think “Flamin’ Mamie” was chosen to coach the international team? What does this choice suggest about the race and gender dynamics of the time?
  6. Why do you think Wyomia had such a hard time as a student when she first started college? Note that she never mentions having any problems in high school. She describes several factors that helped her to improve. What were they and which was the most crucial?
  7. What was the significance of wearing a Tigerbelle T-shirt as opposed to a Tennessee T-shirt? Which shirt is Wyomia wearing on the book cover?
  8. On page 85, Wyomia notes that Mr. Temple became the Tigerbelle coach “almost by accident.” Why was this “accident” so important and what does the fact that it was an accident say about race and gender dynamics at the time?
  9. How was Mr. Temple able to encourage competition with support? Why was this important?
  10. Why did Mr. Temple want Wyomia to talk more? List both superficial and deeper reasons.

LEVEL THREE

  1. Wyomia’s aunts criticize her for having muscles. Are similar beauty standards still in place today? Can you think of any examples?
  2. Giving only some of the athletes Tigerbelle T-shirts created a hierarchy in the Tennessee State University women’s track and field team. Was this a good thing or a bad thing?
  3. Do you think that the fact that Wyomia was a first-generation college student affected her ability to succeed in college? What kinds of skills and knowledge are necessary to do well in college as opposed to high school?
  4. It could be argued that the only reason Wyomia got to go to college was because she was a gifted athlete. Is this fair? Do you think it is still the case for some students today?
  5. On page 85, Wyomia notes that “with certain teachers at Tennessee State, you could not wear an Afro…. And this was at an all-Black college—a Historically Black University (HBU).” What did the professors have against the Afro and why does this seem odd at an HBU?
  6. On page 89, Wyomia notes some of the harsher things that Mr. Temple would say to his athletes—at least one of which could be described as “body shaming”—and the fact that some of the women on the team didn’t like him. She also notes that, because of Mr. Temple, they got an education for free. In your opinion, did the ends justify the means?

LEVEL FOUR

  1. What percentage of American women attended college in the 1960s? What about Black women? What percentage of Americans attends college today?
  2. What was the Cold War and how did it impact international sports competition?
  3. On pages 82-83, Wyomia discusses how important the way women styled their hair was to the team image and to some of the professors at Tennessee State. Earlier, in chapter 2, she noted that her father would never let her straighten her hair. What is the significance of hair to the Black community? If you know from experience, share your schema. If you have no idea, do some research. 

CHAPTER 4 | FIRST GOLD, NEW GROWTH: THE 1964 OLYMPICS

LEVEL ONE

  1. What were Mr. Temple’s expectations for Wyomia going into the 1964 Olympics?
  2. Why does Earlene Brown, the shot putter, have trouble getting a uniform?
  3. Why were the Opening Ceremonies so special for Wyomia? What impressed her most about Japan?
  4. Describe the Olympic Village. What did Wyomia like about it? How was the Olympic Village different from Georgia and Tennessee when it came to race?
  5. Why was Edith brought to the Ginza Market and why did Wyomia get to go with her? Why couldn’t the press buy anything for the athletes?
  6. How were some of Wyomia’s roommates in the Olympic Village different from her and Edith?
  7. What problem did the women’s team have with getting starting blocks and how was it solved?
  8. Who did Wyomia think she would have the most trouble beating in the 100?
  9. How did Wyomia feel after she won the gold? Why had she never beat Edith before?
  10. Who won the 4×100 relay?

LEVEL TWO

  1. Why did Mr. Temple want Wyomia to keep her expectations low?
  2. Using your schema from the previous chapter, can you think of any reasons besides the fact that he had coached the team at the 1960 Olympics that Mr. Temple would not, at first, be asked to coach the team in 1964?
  3. Wyomia’s friends and neighbors pitch in to give her spending money to take to Japan, and on page 97 Wyomia notes that the “swag” she received to bring with her to the Olympics we “welcome to me—I’d never gotten that much stuff at once before.” What does this suggest about the Tyus’s financial status?
  4. Because the swim team got their uniforms before the track team, not only was there nothing left that fit Earlene Brown, the shot putter, but also officials refused to give Earlene a men’s sweat suit because “that’s how they were about all of that.” What does this last sentence mean? What does this situation suggest about race and gender dynamics at the time?
  5. On page 99, Wyomia notes that the people of Japan looked at her and said hello when they approached and that this was different from her experience in New York. “I appreciated that about the Japanese. Still, it was a lot of people, very close together. And it was a long way from Griffin, Georgia.” What do you think she meant by the last statement? Answer on as many levels as you can.
  6. Why did Mr. Temple want Wyomia to go with Edith on her photo shoots?
  7. How did going to the Olympics, visiting Japan, and staying in the Olympic Village affect Wyomia’s sense of herself and of race?
  8. The men’s coach did not want to let the female athletes to use the American team’s starting blocks. What does this situation suggest about race and gender dynamics at the time?
  9. Wyomia notes that she grew a lot in Tokyo, in many different ways. Which aspects of her growth do you think were most important to her eventually winning the medal?
  10. How were Wyomia and Edith able to maintain their friendship while competing against each other?

LEVEL THREE

  1. Was Mr. Temple right to have low expectations for Wyomia? Are there any potential downsides to this approach?
  2. Was it fair that Mr. Temple was allowed to coach the 1964 team even though he had also coached the team in 1960? Why or why not?
  3. Like chapter 2, chapter 4 provides an example of the Black community in Griffin coming together to support Wyomia. Why do you think her community supported her? Why do you think she nevertheless wanted to leave?
  4. In your opinion, what should the Olympic officials have done when they learned that there was no uniform that fit Earlene Brown?
  5. Imagine being a participant at the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. Of the many elements that made the experience special to Wyomia, which ones seem most significant to you?
  6. On page 104, Wyomia notes that, although she wasn’t eating food from other cultures, she was “exposed to it. I saw it, and that’s a bigger part of the experience than you might imagine.” What does she mean by this? Do you agree?
  7. According to Wyomia, athletes could not accept gifts worth more than $50 or they would lose their amateur status. What do you think of this rule? How important is it to you that Olympic athletes be amateurs?
  8. On page 107, Wyomia notes the different ways in which her experience at the Olympics around questions of race was different from her previous experiences in Georgia and Tennessee. Have you ever had an experience that radically changed your sense of who you were or your impression of how other people saw you?
  9. If you were Mr. Temple, what would you have done about the fact that the men’s coach would not let the women’s team use their starting block?
  10. Have you ever competed against a friend? How was your experience different from/similar to Wyomia’s experience competing against Edith?

LEVEL FOUR

  1. What were some significant world historical events or situation that coincided with the 1964 Olympics? How does knowing about them enrich your understanding of Wyomia’s specific experience?
  2. As noted in the footnotes, staying in the Olympic Village has gone in and out of style for American Olympic athletes. What was the experience of the athletes in the most recent Summer Olympics? How have things changed/stayed the same?
  3. How are Olympic coaches chosen? How unusual was Mr. Temple’s situation?

CHAPTER 5 | COLLEGE AS USUAL

LEVEL ONE

  1. When Wyomia and Edith returned to the United States with their medals, how were they greeted?
  2. How did Wyomia feel about having lunch at the White House at the time that it happened?
  3. When she returned to Tennessee State, did Wyomia get any special attention? Why or why not?
  4. Why didn’t Mr. Temple want the Tigerbelles dating football players? How did Wyomia get away with doing so? Did she think Mr. Temple was right in some ways?
  5. To which countries in Africa did Wyomia go and why did she go there? How did the experience affect her? What parallels does she draw between her experiences in Africa and her experiences with her family in the American South?
  6. What happened when Stokely Carmichael came to Tennessee State?
  7. What does Wyomia think about the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.?
  8. What was the Olympic Project for Human Rights? Why did Wyomia choose to get involved in it? Why did she and its organizers get off to a “bumpy start”?
  9. Who were Tommie Smith, John Carlos, Lee Evans, and Art Simburg?
  10. What did Mr. Temple think about the idea of boycotting the Olympics?

LEVEL TWO

  1. What did Wyomia conclude about the fact that the city of Atlanta gave her and Edith a parade but only through the Black neighborhood?
  2. On page 122, Wyomia notes that 1964 was the first time that American Olympic medalists were invited to the White House and that this seems “…contradictory.” What does she mean by this? How did her thoughts about the White House lunch change over time? How is the “Sports of the Times” article she mentions reflective of gender dynamics of the time?
  3. One of Mr. Temple’s biggest problems with football players was the fact that they “took all of the scholarships” and that “half of them didn’t graduate.” How did this make them different from the Tigerbelles, and what does it suggest about gender dynamics at the time? Why might it be easier for men to get scholarships and less important for them to get their degrees?
  4. In speaking about her trip to several countries in Africa, Wyomia notes that “there were that many women interested in running because they weren’t encouraged to do so, which was both why we were there and kind of a catch-22” (128). What do you think she means by this?
  5. In discussing the Civil Rights Movement, Wyomia states that “pacifism was not my strong suit” (133). What does she mean? How did this impact her involvement in the movement?
  6. When Wyomia points out that only athletes who have qualified for the Olympics will be able to boycott them, and Art asks her if she has been talking to Mr. Temple, she responds: “Are you saying I don’t have a brain?” (138). What does she think Art is implying about her and what does this suggest about gender dynamics at the time?

LEVEL THREE

  1. In discussing the fact that their homecoming parade only went through the Black community, Wyomia states that she didn’t “think anything about it at the time” and that she “thought it was great for the Black community to be able to see us and know what we had accomplished” (119). Does this situation seem problematic to you? If so, why?
  2. If a team brings more money into a school, should they get more scholarships, or does this create a self-perpetuating cycle? How should college sports be valued?
  3. In Wyomia’s discussion of the Civil Rights Movement, there is an implied comparison of the strategy of nonviolence to other forms of protest. In your mind, what is the best way to struggle for change in the United States?
  4. On page 132, Wyomia notes that tanks were brought onto campus because a shot had been fired into an unfinished and unoccupied building. “After that,” Wyomia notes, “they shut us straight down—the whole campus. It was brutal.” Does the administration’s response seem appropriate to do? What does it suggest about government versus movement tactics?
  5. Why do you think Mr. Temple was so hard on Pam, the Tigerbelle who participated in the protests and was left behind by her friends when she fell? See pages 132-133.
  6. Do you think that boycotting the Olympics (or any sporting event) is a good way to protest human rights abuses?

LEVEL FOUR

  1. Choose a university in your area that you might like to attend and research their sports programs for both men and women. Which teams get the most funding? Which are the best promoted? Which win the most?
  2. Who was Stokely Carmichael? What were his politics? How were they similar to/different from the politics of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or Malcolm X, who was assassinated in 1964?
  3. How unusual was it for a campus administration to bring in the military to put down student protest in the 1960s? For example, what happened on the University of California at Berkeley campus during the Free Speech Movement, which also happened in 1964?
  4. Who started the Olympic Project for Human Rights and what did it accomplish?

CHAPTER 6 | SPIDERS AND FIRES AND BOMBS

LEVEL ONE

  1. What advantage did Wyomia have going in to the 1968 Olympic Games? What disadvantages?
  2. In what two ways was Wyomia injured? Where was she when each of the injuries was incurred?
  3. What was Mr. Temple’s response when Wyomia ran poorly at the trials for the Pan American Games?
  4. How was Wyomia able to get around Mr. Temple’s plans for her in the run-up to the Pan American Games?
  5. Why didn’t Wyomia run in the 4×100 relay in the Pan American Games?
  6. How old was Wyomia in 1968? Did this make her an old runner or a young runner? What other factors were in play that kept other athletes from continuing their careers at her age?
  7. What were Wyomia’s two goals for 1968? Which did she accomplish first?
  8. Why did the training camps for the 1968 Olympics need to be in locations above 7000 feet?
  9. Where were the men’s and women’s training camps for the 1968 Olympics? Why did Wyomia think this was a problem?
  10. Why did Wyomia feel like an “experimental subject”?

LEVEL TWO

  1. On page 145, Wyomia describes her unwillingness to return to Tennessee State and have Mr. Temple criticize her all summer and how she put a stop to it by qualifying for the 200 meters in the Pan American Games: “I just decided that things would go differently,” she writes, and notes that her ability to think things through for herself gave her a “psychological edge.” How do you think this worked? Was Wyomia able to just change reality with her mind? How did she develop her psychological edge?
  2. Wyomia notes that very few employers were willing to support athletes in their training and competing, writing, “That was just not happening in the 1960s, especially not for women—and even less so for Black women” (148). How was her situation different? What aspects of it were the similar if not the same?
  3. What does the different locations of the men’s and women’s training camps for the 1968 Olympics suggest about the gender dynamics at the time?
  4. Based on the footnote on page 150, why do you think that the Olympic officials did not want the women at the Los Alamos training camp to “go off the beaten path”?
  5. The title of this chapter alludes to a scene from the film The Wizard of Oz, in which the characters Dorothy, Scarecrow, and Tin Man enter a dark forest chanting, “Lions and tigers and bears—oh my!” How does Wyomia’s situation in this chapter compare to that of the characters in the movie? How does referencing an external text enrich the narrative?

LEVEL THREE

  1. Have you ever had your hopes crushed by circumstances, like injury or illness, that are beyond your control? What is the best way of dealing with these disappointments?
  2. Have you ever decided that something in your life needed to change and changed it? What was the process like? Did it occur mostly in your head as it did for Wyomia, or did you have help?
  3. Is there any justification for giving men and women separate and unequal Olympic training camps?
  4. On page 151, Wyomia notes that chromosome tests to verify athletes’ biological sex began around this time. Do you think such tests are important? If so, why, and if not, why not?
  5. Does a government have a right to treat the athletes that represent it as “experimental subjects”?

LEVEL FOUR

  1. In the footnote on page 148, Terzakis notes that “only 8 percent of the female population and 11 percent of the male population earned four-year college degrees in the United States.” What do these statistics look like today? Can you find them broken down by race? Do the numbers surprise you?
  2. What are the impacts of exposure to nuclear radiation? How radioactive was Los Alamos in 1968? Were Wyomia’s concerns about the location of the training camp justified?
  3. Sex verification in sports made big news in 2018, the year that Tigerbelle came out. Who were the major players and what were the issues? Have there been any more recent developments on the issue? What are they? How have things changed and stayed the same? 

CHAPTER 7 | B2B100m

LEVEL ONE

  1. Who participated in the meeting of the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR) once the athletes were in Mexico City?
  2. What were some of the actions, events, and institutions that the athletes in OPHR thought needed to be stopped or changed and which governments had carried them out?
  3. Why did Wyomia feel that the goals of the movement needed to be broader than Black Power?
  4. Who is Jesse Owens? Why did the International Olympic Committee (IOC) bring him in to speak to the athletes? What was their response?
  5. What did the OPHR athletes decide they were going to do?
  6. What was Wyomia’s main problem with the organizing tactics of the male athletes?
  7. Why did Wyomia feel that she needed to listen very carefully at meetings and reserve her judgment?
  8. Who were Wyomia’s biggest rivals for the gold medal in the 100 meters in 1968? How did Wyomia prepare herself to compete with them? How had her attitude changed since before the Pan American Games?
  9. Name two ways that Wyomia psyched out her rivals.
  10. What did two of the other runners do on the day of the race that gave Wyomia an advantage?

LEVEL TWO

  1. What did the athletes mean by calling Jesse Owen the “poster child” of the IOC? What is a poster child? Why did the athletes think he fit this description?
  2. On page 156, Wyomia mentions the fact that she and Edith were not given a parade “…in downtown Atlanta. Just in the Black community.” When this fact was first mentioned in the previous chapter (see page 119), Wyomia did not have a problem with it. How had her thoughts on the matter evolved? Why do you think that they did?
  3. Why do you think it was so difficult for the athletes involved with the OPHR to decide on one thing to do?
  4. Wyomia points out that the male athletes never asked the female athletes for input about how to protest or what the movement’s goals should be: “It was just that whole male thing that I always hated, that ‘Whatever we say, you’re going to do.’ Not ‘Be a part of it.’ Not “Stand up with me.’ But ‘Get behind me.’” (159). How is “Get behind me” different from “Stand up with me”? Wyomia states that her parents “did not raise [her] that way.” Based on your knowledge of how she was raised from previous chapters, how did her upbringing prepare her for this moment?
  5. When Wyomia told other athletes that she planned to do the “Tighten Up” before getting into her blocks, they don’t believe her. Why do you think they found the idea so shocking?

LEVEL THREE

  1. Evaluate Wyomia’s argument that a broader-based movement around human rights would necessarily win more support than a movement focused on Black Power. Do you think this is true? Why are why not? Use historical examples if possible.
  2. On page 156, Wyomia points out that though the US took credit for the victories of its athletes, it didn’t offer them any support before they went to the Olympics or any special treatment after they had won and asks, “What’s wrong with this picture?” In your opinion, what is the answer to this question?
  3. Wyomia clearly wanted to compete in the Olympics, but notes that, “If the group had come to a consensus that we would not compete, if that’s what it was going to be, then my goals might have changed. It wouldn’t have been a big change for me on the inside” (158). Do you think it would have made sense for Wyomia to change her goal “to serve a purpose”? Have you ever made a personal sacrifice in order to achieve a broader social goal?
  4. Why do you think that the female athletes did not contact the male athletes about organizing, once it was clear that the men were moving forward without them?
  5. Wyomia’s husband Duane describes the Tigerbelle’s intricate and lengthy prerace ritual as “cheating” while Wyomia “just thought we were smart” (166). What do you think? 

LEVEL FOUR

  1. Wyomia mentions Hal and Olga Connolly and the Harvard rowing team as prominent members of the OPHR. Who were these athletes and what about their lives made them devote their time to the struggle for human rights in addition to rigorous athletic training?
  2. Who was Jesse Owens? What happened to him after the 1968 Olympics?
  3. Who was Harry Edwards? Where was he in 1968?
  4. What happened to the runners—Margaret Bailes, Barbara Ferrell (both from the United States), and Raelene Boyle (from Australia)—who were favored to win the 100 in 1968?

CHAPTER 8 | AFTER THE DELUGE 

LEVEL ONE

  1. How did Wyomia feel after winning her second Olympic gold medal in the 100 meters?
  2. What was Wyomia’s initial response when she saw Tommie Smith and John Carlos protesting on the medal stand?
  3. What rumors were spread about what was happening to Smith and Carlos and why?
  4. How did other athletes continue the protest after Smith and Carlos were ejected from the Olympic Village? What did Wyomia do?
  5. Who ran with Wyomia in the women’s 4×100 relay?
  6. How did the press react to the fact that Wyomia and the rest of the women’s relay team dedicated their medals to Smith and Carlos?
  7. Why did Wyomia think that this was such an important thing for her to do? Why was this her moment to speak?
  8. According to Wyomia, why weren’t reporters trying to “bathe a Black woman in glory”? What is her explanation for why her first-ever accomplishment did not attract more attention?
  9. Why did Wyomia feel that female athletes should have been included in the OPHR’s organizing?
  10. What kinds of goals did she think would have brought more people into the movement?

LEVEL TWO

  1. Wyomia notes that in the aftermath of the protest, she just wanted to get out of the stadium: “There were too many people there, and we were in front and kind of below everybody, and there were just a few of us Black athletes. And I thought, There are probably some Black people booing too. It was a scary moment” (171). What do you think Wyomia thought might happen? Why were the people booing? Why was it of particular note to her that Black people might be booing too?
  2. Wyomia calls the rumors that were put out about Smith and Carlos “propaganda.” What is the denotation of this word and what are its connotations? Is this an appropriate use of the word?
  3. In discussing Mr. Temple’s reaction to her decision, Wyomia writes that he had always told them to think things through: “Don’t just go off doing things and then have to eat your way home” (174). What did he mean by this?
  4. On page 177, Wyomia notes that she felt that bringing the women “into the organizing would have been consistent with the whole idea of the movement.” What does she mean by this?
  5. Wyomia points out that one of the reasons that it might have been difficult to get athletes to participate in a boycott was because “…a lot of people were looking at the Olympics as their salvation” (179). Why did the athletes need salvation and how might the Olympics provide it? Can it be argued that becoming a world-class athlete was a kind of salvation for Wyomia?

LEVEL THREE

  1. Think of a major achievement in your life and reflect on how you felt immediately after accomplishing it. Were you ready for the next thing? Did you feel a little lost without your goal?
  2. Imagine that you had been in the stadium when Smith and Carlos held their protest. How do you think you would have reacted? Why?
  3. Wyomia is convinced by her own actions that Mr. Temple “had been successful at doing the only thing that really mattered to him: making us feel comfortable being ourselves” (174). Evaluate this statement. Was this the only thing that mattered to Mr. Temple, based on what you’ve read? If this is an example of hyperbole, what point is it trying to make through exaggeration? Finally, how do you think Mr. Temple’s priorities for his athletes compared to those of coaches you have had or read about?
  4. Wyomia argues that the movement might have been more successful if it had had concrete goals like securing jobs and housing for returning athletes or getting equal training camps for women (180). What goals are uniting athletes now? How are they similar to or different from those that Wyomia writes would have been appropriate in the 1960s?
  5. “I also think that it’s always true that the more perspectives you have, the better your ideas are going to be—as long as everybody is on the same side” (181). Do you agree or disagree with his statement? Why?

LEVEL FOUR

  1. There were many different elements to Smith and Carlos’s medal stand protest: they wore no shoes, they had beads around their necks, and they wore black gloves on their raised fists. What was the significance of each element of their protest? How is their protest currently regarded?
  2. Wyomia points out that Smith and Carlos would not give up their medals and that they had never been taken away but that “if you were to search it online right now, you would still find sources that say they were ‘stripped of their medals” or ‘forced to return’ their awards” (171). Is this true? How might Wyomia have authority on this subject?
  3. Peter Norman, the Australian runner who won the silver medal in the men’s 200, was on the medal stand with Smith and Carlos. Norman did not raise his fist, but he did wear an OPHR button. How did Norman feel about the protest and what happened to him when he returned to Australia after the Olympics?
  4. What protests movements were going on in the United States at the time of the 1968 Olympics? Could parallels be drawn between those movements and the OPHR? 

CHAPTER 9 | ANOTHER LIFE TO LIVE

LEVEL ONE

  1. Why were all the different reasons that made Wyomia decide that her running career was over after the 1968 Olympics?
  2. What did some of the white people of Griffin do when the city attempted to integrate the town swimming pool?
  3. Who helped Wyomia when she first arrived in California?
  4. When Wyomia worked for Universal Studios, could she play off her name as an Olympic athlete? Why or why not?
  5. How did Wyomia end up married to Art?
  6. Why did Art think it would be a good idea to live in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles?
  7. What happened to Wyomia’s daughter Simone and how did it impact her marriage?
  8. Why did Wyomia feel that she and Art “had to split”?

LEVEL TWO

  1. On the basis of everything you have read so far, why do you think Wyomia was tired of running? What aspects of it had worn her out?
  2. What does Wyomia mean when she writes that she “couldn’t see a way for [her]self in Griffin?” She felt similarly right after her father died; what had changed and what had stayed the same?
  3. How was the fact that another Tigerbelle helped Wyomia to find a job and place to live when she moved to Los Angeles consistent with Mr. Temple’s training model? Draw examples from earlier chapters to support your answer.
  4. In discussing her early work experiences, Wyomia notes that in addition to needing work to pay the bills, she also needs “something to grow on” (188). What do you think she means by this?
  5. On page 190, Wyomia describes the backdrop for her first marriage. How would you characterize her tone in this paragraph? What do you predict is going to happen to this relationship based on the way she writes about it (as opposed to what she says)?
  6. What is the subtext in the exchange between Wyomia and the man in the elevator?
  7. Why was Wyomia so upset that Art tried to get her to change her usual shoes in the final for the 100 meters at the 1968 Olympics?
  8. Wyomia explains that she was someone who always said what she thought, and if her husband did something she didn’t like, she “didn’t try to clean it up.” What do you think she meant by this? 

LEVEL THREE

  1. Mr. Temple encouraged all his athletes to quite when they were on top. What do you think of this advice?
  2. Where did you grow up and how do you feel about your hometown? Can you see “a way” for yourself there? Why or why not?
  3. How did you or someone you know well get your/their first job? Was it because of something they did or because of someone they knew?
  4. What does growth at work mean to you? Financial advancement? An expansion of horizons? The acquisition of new skills? Do you think it is important to have room for growth at work or is it all about the paycheck?
  5. On page 191, it becomes obvious that Art and Wyomia have very different ideas about dealing with racism. Who do you think had the best idea and why?

LEVEL FOUR

  1. On page 185, Wyomia notes that her first-ever accomplishment was “never played up; it was like nobody ever thought about it—not until a male runner did somewhat the same thing some twenty years later.” To which male runner is she referring and what does she mean that he did “somewhat the same thing”?
  2. According to Wyomia, the fact that she and Art were in an interracial relationship meant that “some extra understanding would be needed.” Wyomia and Art became a couple in the late 1960s. What were the statistics around interracial marriage at the time? How have they changed since then? What legal or activist struggles have occurred around this issue? 

CHAPTER 10 | MAKING A WAY

LEVEL ONE

  1. Why did Wyomia decide to come out of retirement and run to the International Track Association (ITA)?
  2. How many events did the ITA have for women? How many events did it have for men?
  3. Why did Wyomia decide to leave the ITA? What caused it to shut down?
  4. What was the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF)? How did it start, what were its goals, and what did it do?
  5. What kinds of jobs did Wyomia get on the basis of being an Olympic champion?
  6. Who was the one sportscaster who supported Wyomia throughout her career?
  7. What were Wyomia’s criteria for deciding whether or not to take a job?
  8. Besides these forms of employment, how else was Wyomia recognized for being an Olympic champion?
  9. Why is Wyomia grateful for being an Olympian even if it didn’t make her life easier?
  10. What did Wyomia enjoy most about running? 

LEVEL TWO

  1. On page 198, Wyomia argues that, when it comes to running sprints, men are always going to beat women—“unless I’m ten and the boy is also ten. I can beat him at ten. I can beat him at twelve.” Why do you think Tyus thinks that age makes such a difference in female vs. male competition?
  2. Although she won every race she ran in the second year of her participation, Wyomia decided to leave the league because “it was not a growth experience.” Wyomia mentions the importance of growth in several of the previous chapters, including 4, 8, and 9. What kind of experiences constitute “growth experiences” for her? Why wasn’t the ITA one of them?
  3. Was the Women’s Superstars a growth experience for Wyomia? Why or why not?
  4. Wyomia points out on page 202 that she was never in favor of having “a women’s baseball team even if there were no women who could play or wanted to play, because that would just lead to more negative stereotypes about women and sports.” What does she mean by this? How would having a women’s baseball team under the circumstances she mentions feed into stereotypes?
  5. On page 207, Wyomia mentions that when someone offers you a job, “you analyze the job, and if the job is not something that is going to intrude on your values, you take it.” Which of the various jobs Wyomia mentions having done “intruded” on her values? What was the intrusion and what was her response?

LEVEL THREE

  1. On the first page of the chapter, Wyomia states: “I have always felt that athletes should be paid.” What is your stance on this question? Should Olympic athletes be paid? What about high school and college athletes who bring in money for their schools?
  2. Wyomia said that the league started to race men against women so that “the women could lose—for ‘entertainment.’ To ‘bring in the crowds’” (197). Does this sound like entertainment to you? Why or why not?
  3. How does the Women’s Superstars compare to the ITA? Was it a better deal? Compare, contrast, and evaluate the two.
  4. See question 4, Level Two, above. Under what circumstances do you think women’s teams should be formed and funded?
  5. Wyomia argues that women “should have the opportunity to train and play and learn to excel even if they’re not turning out the crowds. Because there are a lot of men’s teams that, when they started to play, couldn’t play well either. Nobody came to see them either, but they still got a chance” (202). What does “turning out the crowds” have to do with whether women or men get to play sports? Why would men get to play even if they didn’t turn out the crowds? What does this suggest about gender dynamics/gender roles at the time? Are those dynamics still in play today?

LEVEL FOUR

  1. Which athletes are paid and which are not? This is a big question, so you may want to narrow it down by researching a particular sport, or only female athletes, or only certain levels of competition.
  2. What was the International Track Association? Who ran for them besides Wyomia? Why did the league fold so quickly?
  3. Does the Women’s Sports Foundation still exist? What does it do?
  4. Who is Billie Jean King? Why was she getting a lot of publicity at the time of the Women’s Superstars?

CHAPTER 11 | GETTING OUT OF THE BLOCKS (LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE)

LEVEL ONE

  1. What “growth lesson” did Wyomia learn at a WSF dinner?
  2. What was Wyomia’s first job for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)? Who participated in the program in which she worked and what were its goals?
  3. How did the students react to seeing the ways in which they were stereotyped?
  4. Who is Duane Tillman? How did Wyomia meet him?
  5. What difficulties does Wyomia’s son Tyus face? Has he allowed them to shape his life?
  6. To what places did Wyomia take her children so that they could get to know their families?
  7. From what job did Wyomia retire? Who participated in the program and what were its goals? How was it similar to/different from her job with the integration program?
  8. What did Wyomia enjoy most about the job at Clear Creek?
  9. What was Wyomia’s initial response when she learned that her hometown of Griffin planned to dedicate a park to her?
  10. What was the park like and how did she feel about it when it was completed?

LEVEL TWO

  1. Wyomia mentions that she was not “living high on the hog” but just working to “make ends meet” and that there were limits to what she would do to “get ahead.” Unpack these expressions. What do they mean literally and what are their connotations?
  2. What does Wyomia mean when she says that “no one was tripping over themselves” trying to get her to do speaking engagements or make appearances? Again, ascertain the literal and the connected implications of the expression.
  3. Wyomia points out that when the program leaders asked students how they thought society saw them: “We wouldn’t have enough paper” (213). What does she mean by this?
  4. What is a “stereotype”? Find a definition and come up with examples.
  5. On pages 219-220, Wyomia writes: “You might find yourself ten years from now doing the kinds of things your great-grandmother used to do, so you should know: This is the blood that is running through you.” Unpack this statement. Why does Wyomia think it is important for her children to really understand her, her relatives, and how different people are different people, even within families?
  6. How had Wyomia’s experiences up to that point perfectly prepared her for the job at Clear Creek? Who had guided her to be the teacher she became?
  7. Why was Wyomia dubious of Griffin’s intention to build her a park? Draw your answer both from this chapter and from previous chapters? That is, give the immediate reasons and those that might have built up over time.
  8. Can it be argued that getting the job as a Naturalist at Clear Creek brought Wyomia full circle? If so, how so?
  9. On page 226, Wyomia writes, “I thought it would just be a little park because I know Griffin, and I figured it would be in the Black neighborhood, which would mean there wasn’t much space for it.” In the end, did Wyomia “know Griffin”? Explain what you think had changed and why.
  10. The people from Parks and Recreation who were behind the park said that they wanted to show Wyomia how much they appreciated what she did (228). What do you think Wyomia’s accomplishments as an Olympic athlete brought to the town of Griffin? How might her achievements have benefited the town as a whole? 

LEVEL THREE

  1. Wyomia states that she “was not going to be the person talking to people [she] didn’t want to know just to get ahead” (211). What is your take on this kind of situation? What are your principles and limits when it comes to “getting ahead”?
  2. Have you ever participated in an integration program like the one in which Wyomia worked? How do you feel about such programs? Are they beneficial? Why or why not?
  3. Wyomia notes that whenever they talked about negative stereotypes, “no one ever looked at it as what they thought” (213). Do you ever find yourself impacted by negative stereotypes even if you do not consciously subscribe to them? How do stereotypes function in your life?
  4. Nature is an important touchstone for Wyomia at both the beginning and toward the end of her story. Do you have a relationship with nature? How do you feel about it?
  5. Were Wyomia’s suspicions justified when she first heard that Griffin was planning to build her a park? Why or why not? Draw from other chapters to support your answer, but also remember to check in with your own values.

LEVEL FOUR

  1. What are the current demographic divisions in Los Angeles? Are city schools still segregated? How is this situation similar to/different from the schools in your own town? Have things changed in the last ten or twenty years? In what way?
  2. Research the Wyomia Tyus Olympic Park. What are they facilities like? Who uses it? Does it seem like a fitting tribute to Wyomia? Why or why not?
  3. What is Griffin like now? What is the state of race relations? What are the main industries? What do people do for work?
  4. According to NPR’s Code Switch Podcast, Episode 2, “Being ‘Outdoorsy’ When You’re Black Or Brown,” “There are real reasons, both historical and contemporary, that can make stepping outside in your free time while black or brown a politically charged move” (See https:// www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2016/06/08/480932447/the-code-switch-podcast-episode-2-made-for-you-and-me). Check out the podcast and discuss it. How does race/ethnicity affect people’s relationship to nature? Where does Wyomia’s experience fit in?

CHAPTER 12 | MR. TEMPLE’S LEGACY

LEVEL ONE

  1. Wyomia starts the chapter on Mr. Temple’s legacy by talking about relationships. Which of the relationships she formed during her time as a Tigerbelle was most important to her?
  2. How did “crews” form among the Tigerbelles and how were they similar or different?
  3. What did most of the Tigerbelles have in common?
  4. How do the Tigerbelles support each other in the current day?
  5. What were the different job titles that Mr. Temple held at Tennessee State?
  6. What two occupations did Black women tend to have at the time Wyomia went to college?
  7. Why did Edith and Wyomia decide that they would return to Tennessee State every year for homecoming?
  8. How did Edith and Wyomia know that Mr. Temple accepted them as adults?
  9. How was losing Mr. Temple different from/similar to Wyomia’s experience of losing her father?
  10. Based on this chapter, in what ways was Mr. Temple “a gift to Wyomia’s life”?

LEVEL TWO

  1. Why does Wyomia give credit to Mr. Temple for her friendship with Edith? Draw on your knowledge from other chapters as well as the current chapter.
  2. How did Wyomia and Edith manage to stay friends even though they were competitors?
  3. Why were all the Tigerbelles “conscious of the need to take care of each other” (233)?
  4. On page 235, Wyomia writes: “That was what Mr. Temple always wanted us to know: That everyone is an important link in the chain.” What is the “chain” in this case? How do the individual Tigerbelles constitute links in this chain?
  5. In recounting her discussion with Mr. Temple about whether or not the Tigerbelles could pledge with the Delta sorority, Edith McGuire is quoted as saying: “I don’t know what I was thinking going into his office and telling him, ‘That’s Delta business!’ Like, who was I?” (237). What does this statement suggest about the nature of Edith and Mr. Temple’s relationship and now it has changed over the years?
  6. On page 240, Wyomia explains that she felt it was necessary for her to be able to talk about Mr. Temple’s passing: “I’ve got to talk about this for the book. I owe it to Mr. Temple.” Mr. Temple has already been mentioned, extensively, in the book. Why do you think Wyomia felt it was important to include this particular chapter?
  7. What lesson did Wyomia learn from the way her mother was before she passed? Why was this lesson so valuable to her?
  8. Wyomia writes that “the saddest part for me about Mr. Temple’s death is that I didn’t get there before he passed away” (243). How did this happen? Why did Wyomia continue to tell herself, “He’s going to be there; he’ll be okay” even when he was telling her quite clearly that he was not?
  9. Mr. Temple’s daughter, Edwina Temple, refused other people’s advice about who should speak at her father’s memorial, saying, “I’m not having my daddy coming back here shaking my house. He said what he wanted, and I’m doing exactly what he said” (244). What did she mean by this?
  10. Based on this chapter and all the other chapters before it, in what ways was Mr. Temple “a gift to Wyomia’s life”?

LEVEL THREE

  1. What is your experience with competing against friends? Do you see similarities between the way you deal with the situation and the way Wyomia dealt with it?
  2. Are you part of a “crew”? How did your crew form and what keeps it together? Does anything ever threaten to tear it apart?
  3. Wyomia notes that, because of the Tigerbelles, she can “leave home and still feel at home” (235). Are you part of this kind of network? Would you want to be? If you are, how did you get there? If not, how could you get there?
  4. Wyomia writes that “It’s difficult when you’re young; you know what you want to say or do, and you know it so hard. But you can also not say certain things, and that’s not going to kill your pride either…” (236). What is your experience of talking back to people with authority? Do you think you would have done well working with Mr. Temple?
  5. According to Wyomia, “The whole process of going through death and being around people who are dying forces you to grow in a different way from any other kind of growth I have experienced” (241). Have you ever lost someone close to you? Were you able to grow from the experience? If not, what are your thoughts and fears about mortality? How do you think you might grow by overcoming them?

LEVEL FOUR

  1. Mr. Temple passed away in September of 2016, just after his 89th birthday. Wyomia notes that the sports world took little notice of his passing. What was written about Mr. Edward Stanley Temple in the aftermath of his death? Wyomia mentions a few periodicals and journalists who talked or wrote about him. Start your search with them and see what you can find.
  2. What happened to the track and field program for women after Mr. Temple retired? How were Historically Black Universities in general affected by Title IX? 

CHAPTER 13 | BLACK WOMEN IN SPORTS: THEN AND NOW 

LEVEL ONE

  1. What were the two main obstacles Wyomia faced in becoming an athlete?
  2. For whom did Wyomia feel she was competing, first and foremost? Why?
  3. How did a lack of female coaches make it more difficult for women to become athletes?
  4. Why did some women give up on their athletic dreams even if they were very good?
  5. What happened to Black athletes’ records when Southern schools were integrated?
  6. Wyomia mentions two male athletes who have started coaching their daughters. Who are they?
  7. Why did the US boycott the 1980 Olympics?
  8. When were professional athletes first allowed to compete in the Olympics?
  9. According to Wyomia, why should college football players be paid?
  10. What has changed, and what has not changed, when it comes to women in sports? What is the one thing that women athletes need the most?

LEVEL TWO

  1. What specific ideas made it difficult for women to become athletes when she was a child? What aspects of her upbringing helped her to transcend these ideas?
  2. Wyomia writes that “The whole Jim Crow era was about not celebrating me or people like me, and I brought that with me to every race” (250). Unpack this statement.
  3. Why does Wyomia write that a woman “would have to be a visionary—like Mr. Temple—to even think of” becoming a coach (251)?
  4. “When they integrated the schools, they cleaned the slate—started over, like we were never there” (253). What does it mean to “clean the slate” both literally and figuratively? Reflecting back on previous chapters, why might school officials have dispensed with Black athletes’ records?
  5. Why is it such a big deal to Wyomia that men are coaching their daughters? What might it signify to her, based on what she has said in this and other chapters?
  6. Wyomia states that “it seems to me that [the Olympics are] always about coming out on top—and the US better come out on top” (255). What kinds of things are implied by both halves of this statement?
  7. According to Wyomia, why did the United States start arguing for professional athletes to be allowed into the Olympics? How was this a departure from their previous position? What does this say about the government’s priorities?
  8. Wyomia notes on page 258 that she doesn’t buy the argument that there are few people of color competing in sports like skating or gymnastics or swimming because they are too poor. She argues that “it was never just about the money. Race—racism—was also a part of it.” How does she support this argument?
  9. Why does Wyomia think it is important that there are female sports commentators? Why does she think that publicity in general is crucial to the success of women’s sports?
  10. Why does Wyomia feel that a movement is necessary for women athletes to get the support and recognition they deserve?

LEVEL THREE

  1. When you were a child, were you ever discouraged from doing something you really wanted to do? Were there social roots to your discouragement as there were for Wyomia? Did you overcome the discouragement? If so, how did you do it? On what resources did you draw?
  2. What do you think about the practice of athletes draping themselves in their national flags when they win races at the Olympics or in other international competitions? What is the relationship between sport and national identity/national interests? In your opinion, what should it be?
  3. The US boycotted the Olympic Games in 1980 for political reasons. How is it different when a government mixes politics and sports and when athletes mix politics and sports? In either case, do you approve or disapprove?
  4. Do you root for the United States in Olympic or other international competitions? Why or why not? If you follow sports teams, what determines your loyalty? Why do you think that rooting for a “home” team is so important to so many people?
  5. Why would you (or would you not) go to watch a women’s sports team play? If you watch men’s teams play, why do you go? Is there any difference in your requirements for one versus the other?

LEVEL FOUR

  1. When were women first included in the Olympics? In what sports were they allowed to compete?
  2. Some sports have different rules and parameters when they are being played by women as opposed to when they are being played by men, including tennis and basketball (see chapter 2). What is the history of these differences? Why were they first enforced and are they still enforced today? Should they be? Why or why not?
  3. How has Title IX impacted women’s sports?
  4. Was the US boycott of the Olympics in 1980 the first time the Olympics had been boycotted? What is the history of Olympic boycotts carried out by states? How have the Olympics been used historically to put pressure on certain governments? 

CHAPTER 14 | BLACK LIVES HAVE ALWAYS MATTERED

LEVEL ONE

  1. How were Wyomia and her brothers affected by seeing the chain gang work the road in front of their house?
  2. According to Wyomia, what lesson do Black parents still have to teach their children?
  3. How were race relations different when Wyomia moved from Georgia to California?
  4. What is Wyomia’s shopping experience like when she goes to get her groceries in the all-white community of La Cañada?
  5. What is one of the accomplishments of #BlackLivesMatter in Wyomia’s opinion?
  6. What is the one thing that makes Wyomia impatient for change?
  7. How dies Wyomia feel about Colin Kaepernick and the members of the Women’s National Basketball Association who have participated in the protest against police shootings of unarmed Black people by taking a knee during the national anthem?
  8. What are some of the things that Wyomia thinks will be necessary to start a new movement for racial justice?
  9. How is Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s action on the medal stand fifty years ago still relevant today, according to Wyomia?
  10. Does Wyomia think change that is enough will come in her lifetime?

LEVEL TWO

  1. Why does Wyomia return to her childhood to tell the story of sitting on the porch and seeing the chain gang? What does this return to narrative and dialogue add to her argument?
  2. Wyomia introduces the theme of change at the very beginning of the chapter and notes that “there has been change, but that change has not been enough. And sometimes that change isn’t for the better; it’s just change” (271). How does Wyomia use this idea of change to structure the chapter?
  3. Wyomia notes that while the chain gangs used to be out on the road where everyone can see them, now they are “locked up in prison for decades doing work in tiny cells” and notes: “That’s different? But is it better?” Based on what you have learned about Wyomia through reading her book, do you think that she thinks it’s better? Why or why not?
  4. Wyomia titled this chapter, “Black Lives Have Always Mattered.” What does this statement mean to her? How is it similar to/different from the meaning of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter and movement founded by Alicia Garza, Patrice Cullors, and Opal Tometi?
  5. On page 276, Wyomia writes about the importance of being “inclusive” and notes that “being inclusive means reaching out to all kinds of people, even people who have very different experiences.” In what other chapter did she talk about the importance of inclusion? Based on that chapter and this one, why is this such an important idea to her?
  6. Why does Wyomia reject “the whole ‘They don’t know our pain!’ argument” (277)?
  7. On page 277, Wyomia states: “Racism exists.” On the one hand, race, racism, and racial oppression are concepts, ideas, but they are ideas that have concrete effects. What is the relationship between the three words? What are some of the concrete effects of race, racism, and racial oppression?
  8. In discussing some people’s opposition to athletes protesting during the national anthem, Wyomia writes: “Think about why you dislike that kind of protest. Is it really because this country is so great? Come on. And I think, too, that if it was about another cause, if it was about farm subsidies, for example, I don’t know if people would be so down on” athletes taking a knee (279). What does she mean by this? What is she suggesting the protest of the protest is actually about?
  9. Wyomia notes that is someone says something offensive to her, she has to respond: “It’s just that if it comes to my head to respond to something offensive someone has said, and I don’t say it, I walk around with that burden. Some things have to be said” (282). Examine this statement and the surrounding text. How could unspoken words constitute a burden?
  10. On the last page of the book, Wyomia writes that “we have to focus on the big picture, and we have to be down for the long haul” (283). What is she talking about? Why does she think this is true?

LEVEL THREE

  1. Do you have a story to tell that you think would be useful in getting other people to understand what you mean/how you feel about the issue of racial justice? What is your story, and what is the point of your story?
  2. In your mind, how does having prisoners working out on the road different from having them “doing work in tiny cells”? Is there anything problematic about prison work? Why or why not?
  3. What do you know about “the talk” (i.e., conversations like the one that Wyomia has with her son Tyus on page 273)?
  4. Have you ever participated on a protest as an athlete or otherwise? What made you get involved in the movement? Do you think social movements are necessary to make change? What do you think could bring more people into social movements?
  5. Refer to question 9, Level Two, above. Have you ever carried the burden or unuttered speech? In your opinion, what kinds of thing “have to be said,” why, and when? 

LEVEL FOUR

  1. What is a chain gang? Are chain gangs still in existence anywhere in the United States? If so, where? What about work programs in prisons? Are prisoners for or against them? What about you?
  2. Who was Emmett Till? Who was Tamir Rice? What did they have in common? What does what happened to them say about what has changed and what has stayed the same?
  3. What is the #BlackLivesMatter movement?

RELATED READING

First to the Finish Line: The Tennessee State Tigerbelles 1944‐1994 by Tracey M. Salisbury, Ph.D. (Unpublished dissertation, 2009. Available as a PDF at https://libres.uncg.edu/ir/uncg/f/ Salisbury_uncg_0154D_10304.pdf)

A Spectacular Leap: Black Women Athletes in Twentieth Century America by Jennifer H. Lansbury

Only the Pure in Heart Survive by Edward Stanley Temple

Game Changers: The Unsung Heroines of Sports History by Molly Schiot

Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports by Eileen McDonagh and Laura Pappano

Bloomer Girls: Women Baseball Pioneers by Debra A. Shattuck

The Frailty Myth: Redefining the Physical Potential of Women and Girls by Colette Dowling

A Game of Their Own: Voices of Contemporary Women in Baseball by Jennifer Ring

Beyond Bend It Like Beckham: The Global Phenomenon of Women’s Soccer by Timothy F. Grainey

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

ONLINE RESOURCES

VIDEOS 

“Wyomia Tyus Retains Olympic 100m Title—First Ever | Mexico 1968 Olympics.” (YouTube)

“Bittersweet Bronze: Mexico ‘68.” (YouTube)

“Coaching the Olympic Team”—Kenneth Thompson of Fisk University interviews Ed Temple (YouTube)

ARTICLES FROM THE 1960s

“Flamin’ Mamie’s Bouffant Belles” by Gilbert Rogin at http://www.si.com/vault/issue/43115/1/1

“Dolls on the Move to Mexico” by Bob Ottum at https://www.si.com/vault/1968/09/02/610339/dolls-on-the-move-to-mexico

“Sports of the Times” by Arthur Daley at http://www.nytimes.com/1964/12/03/sports-of-the-times.html?_r=1.

See also: “How Big Hair Got These Runners on the Cover of Sports Illustrated” by Kit Fox

ABOUT WYOMIA TYUS

“In the Spirit of Wyomia Tyus, Women Athletes Say #BlackLivesMatter” by Dave Zirin

“Wyomia Tyus, Hidden Figure” by Dave Zirin

Burn It All Down Episode 53: “Happy Birthday to BIAD with Special Guests Wyomia Tyus and Elena Delle Donne”

“Four-time Olympic medalist Wyomia Tyus reflects on Coach Ed Temple and becoming ‘more than an athlete’”

“Sports Sunday: Wyomia Tyus, the First Woman To Retain an Olympic Title In The 100 Meter” by Avana Rashed

“Go for the Gold Throughout Life” by Mary Reese Boykin



Featured: Black Interest