The experiences of women in physical education history from the nineteenth century forward offer us valuable insights toward a better understanding of the discipline since its inception. The deeply gendered histories of women in the profession are contingent upon the ways in which they intersect with other identities, including class, race, and sexuality. Dominant gender ideologies were reinforced and resisted in women’s physical education, making it a significant location to understand how bodies were constructed and reconstructed within ever-changing societal definitions of gender and athletic femininity. The contradictions and complexities that emerge as a result of the many gender tensions in play over the course of this history produce a rich site to more completely understand the discipline’s past and future.
Raja Malikah Rahim and Rita Liberti
Tina Sloan Green, Nikki Franke, Alpha Alexander, and Linda Greene represent an integral part of a culture of Black women in sports who created a place and space for themselves and others in opposition to the long history of racism and sexism that suffused sports in the United States and global world. As founders of the Black Women in Sport Foundation (BWSF), their activism and organizing on behalf of Black women and girls in, and beyond sport, is as varied as it is vast. While the founders have been interviewed about the BWSF numerous times throughout their respective careers, those interviews fail to capture the paths that led them to successful careers or the incorporation of the BWSF. Using oral history narratives, this paper contends that their experiences from childhood to young adulthood offer incredible insights about the origins and evolution of their critical consciousness around race and gender that emerged during their formative years. It illuminates the familial, communal, educational, and sporting legacies of BWSF founders from childhood to the mid-to-late 1970s, when their worlds collided at Temple University. Their histories underscore how they navigated and negotiated the ideologies of racism and sexism from childhood to adulthood. As young Black women who lived before the passage of Title IX, their stories depict the early struggles and successes of women and girls’ participation in sports and broader society. Individually and collectively, BWSF founders’ oral history narratives offer a great understanding of Black women in sports and society in the past and present.