When I Passed the Statue of Liberty I Became Black

Harry Edward


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Yale University Press
20 February 2024
ISBN: 9780300270976
304 pages

From the publisher

"Harry Edward was a hugely talented athlete and an extraordinary man who fought all his life for justice and fairness in the face of repeated prejudice. His story is as powerful today as it was when he lived it and I urge everyone to read this book"-Linford Christie, 1992 Olympic 100m Champion The lost memoir of Britain's first Black Olympic medal winner-and the America he discovered

After winning Olympic medals for Britain in 1920, Harry Edward (1898-1973) decided to try his luck in America. The country he found was full of thrilling opportunity and pervasive racism.

Immensely capable and energetic, Harry rubbed shoulders with kings and presidents, was influential in the revival of Black theatre during the Harlem Renaissance, and became a passionate humanitarian and advocate for child welfare. He was present at some of the twentieth century's most significant moments, worked alongside W. E. B. Du Bois and Orson Welles, and witnessed two world wars and the civil rights movement. Yet he was frustrated at almost every turn.

Toward the end of his life he set down his story, crafting this memoir of athletics and activism, race and racism on both sides of the Atlantic. His manuscript went unpublished until now. This is the deeply engaging tale of Edward's life-and a moving testament to his drive to form a better world.