Black History Month: Dwight Lewis author of Temple’s Tigerbelles has two book signings

Dwight Lewis

Temple’s Tigerbelles: An Illustrated History Of The Women Who Outran The World is a history book, a sports book and a picture book about the young ladies who “opened the door for other women, not only in track and field, but in all sports.’’ Parnassus Books welcomes Lewis for a book signing event on Sunday, February 24, 2019 at 2:00pm. Parnassus Books is located in Green Hills at 3900 Hillsboro Pike Suite 14, Nashville, TN 37215. The Tennessee State University main campus Library will also host a book signing by Lewis on Monday, February 25, from 11:30 AM until 1:30 PM.

Temple’s Tigerbelles, illustrated by well-known Nashville artist James Threalkill and written by former Tennessean newspaper writers Dwight Lewis and Susan Thomas, tells of the amazing hardships these young ladies went through as Coach Temple led them to 23 Olympic medals – 13 Gold, six Silver and four Bronze, from the 1956 Olympic Games through the 1984 Olympic Games.

These young ladies, including Wilma Rudolph, who overcame polio as a child to go on to win three gold medals in the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome and became known as the fastest woman on Earth, were products of Nashville’s Tennessee State University and led by their coach, Edward Stanley Temple. Temple was head of TSU’s women’s track and field program from 1950 to 1994. In all, he led more than 40 athletes to the Olympics. His athletes also accumulated more than 30 national titles.

Dwight Lewis, the American Civil Liberties Union-Tennessee 2018 Lifetime Achievement honoree, is an award-winning journalist who retired in September 2011 as editorial page editor and op-ed page columnist for The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville. A member of First Baptist Church, Capitol Hill, and the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Dwight served as foreman of the January 2018 term of the Davidson County Grand Jury.

Lewis has said there were a few countries like Germany that dominated track and field, particularly at the Olympic Games, up until the mid-1950s. But then the Tigerbelles made their presence known at the Games in Melbourne, Australia, in 1956 when they won several bronze medals. They continued that domination at the Olympic Games in Rome in 1960, highlighted by Wilma Rudolph’s three gold medals, the first American woman to win that many gold medals in track and field during a single Olympic Games.

“Since 1960, it’s been America dominating,” Lewis said. “And it was the Tigerbelles who started that wave. Coach Temple would often say, ‘They paved the way for other women in sports.’”

In 2015, a 9-foot bronze statue was unveiled in Temple’s likeness at First Tennessee Park in Nashville. The visionary for the statue was Nashville businessman Bo Roberts, who said the project had been in the works for well over a decade, and that he was glad the unveiling could finally take place for one of his longtime heroes. Coach Temple’s legacy is now on display for the world to see as exhibits in the Smithsonian Institution’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. The TSU collection includes Temple’s Olympic jacket, replicas of gold medals, and other artifacts or memorabilia.