Untold until now, here is the story of Black sprinter and long-jumper Willye B. White, who went from picking cotton as a child in Mississippi to competing and winning in the 1956 and 1964 Olympics.
Future Olympian Willye B. White was born in 1939 in Money, Mississippi—but money was exactly what she didn’t have. Abandoned by both her parents, she worked alongside her grandparents in the cotton fields. Willye had big dreams, though. So when her cousin noticed she was the fastest runner around, Willye jumped at the chance to put on her traveling shoes and run her way to better opportunities. And run Willye did, first for the Tennessee State Tigerbelles and then for the US Olympic team. Her struggles weren’t over though—time and again, Willye had to remind herself, “I believe in me,” whether she was running and jumping or witnessing the turmoil of the Civil Rights Movement.
Through Alice Faye Duncan’s signature combination of poetry and prose and Keith Mallett's lifelike illustrations, readers will be inspired by Willye White’s persistence and will learn how she contributed to Black progress with muscle and grit.