On Thursday night Simone Manuel accomplished the ultimate feat. The young swimmer won the 100m and claimed her spot in the history books as the first African American woman to win an individual gold medal in swimming.
Overcome with emotion, Manuel spoke about the significance of her win as black people in America continue to battle against racial injustice.
“It means a lot, especially with what is going on in the world today, some of the issues of police brutality,” Manuel said. “This win hopefully brings hope and change to some of the issues that are going on. My color just comes with the territory.”
It’s no secret that black women are few and far in between in the world of swimming, so being labeled a “black swimmer” is something Manuel has had to deal with during her quest for excellence in the sport.
“Just coming into this race tonight, I kind of tried to take the weight of the black community off my shoulders, which is something I carry with me just being in this position,” Manuel said. “But I do hope that it kind of goes away. . . . The title ‘black swimmer’ makes it seem like I’m not supposed to be able to win a gold medal or I’m not supposed to break records. And that’s not true.”
We love how candid she was. Congrats Ms. Manuel!