A hearty congratulations to one of our PhD graduates, Jenny Lansbury! Her book A Spectacular Leap: Black Women Athletes in Twentieth-Century America will be released April 1, 2014!


Here’s the info from University of Arkansas Press:

A Spectacular Leap
Black Women Athletes in Twentieth-Century America
Jennifer H. Lansbury

How six world-class competitors fought prejudice

“Jennifer Lansbury brings much needed scholarly attention to the lives of African American women athletes. She has written a compelling, readable narrative that uses biography to illuminate black women’s place in sport history and, more broadly, U.S. history.”
—Susan K. Cahn, author of 
Coming on Strong: Gender and Sexuality in Twentieth-Century Women’s Sport

When high jumper Alice Coachman won the high jump title at the 1941 national championships with “a spectacular leap,” African American women had been participating in competitive sport for close to twenty-five years. Yet it would be another twenty years before they would experience something akin to the national fame and recognition that African American men had known since the 1930s, the days of Joe Louis and Jesse Owens. From the 1920s, when black women athletes were confined to competing within the black community, through the heady days of the late twentieth century when they ruled the world of women’s track and field, African American women found sport opened the door to a better life. However, they also discovered that success meant challenging perceptions that many Americans—both black and white—held of them.
Through the stories of six athletes—Coachman, Ora Washington, Althea Gibson, Wilma Rudloph, Wyomia Tyus, and Jackie Joyner-Kersee—Jennifer H. Lansbury deftly follows the emergence of black women athletes from the African American community; their confrontations with contemporary attitudes of race, class, and gender; and their encounters with the civil rights movement. Uncovering the various strategies the athletes use to beat back stereotypes, Lansbury explores the fullness of African American women’s relationship with sport in the twentieth century.

Jennifer H. Lansbury formerly served as assistant professor of history and director of the sport and American culture minor at George Mason University.

Lansbury: The University of Arkansas Press

It’s also available on Amazon: A Spectacular Leap: Black Women Athletes in Twentieth-Century America: Jennifer H. Lansbury: 9781557286581: Amazon.com: Books




Nicole A. Roth

Graduate Coordinator

PhD History, MA History & MA Art History

George Mason University

4400 University Drive, MS 3G1

Fairfax, VA 22030

(O) 703.993.1248

(F) 703.993.1251


Mason Staff Senator