Progressive Pupil’s Top Five Black Winter Olympians So Far

Photo courtesy of Shanidavis.org

Photo courtesy of Shanidavis.org

It’s finally Sochi’s time to shine, as the nations of the world come together to compete in this Russian city for the 2014 XXII Olympic Winter Games. As we all get excited and filled with national pride, watching countries compete on a snowy global stage – we must remember that just because the snow is white, doesn’t mean that the games are too. So let’s take a trip down memory lane and look back at our five favorite Black Winter Olympians of all time. These fierce athletes are extraordinary individuals who have made history, defied odds, and melted away those winter white stereotypes.

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Queen Nanny of the Maroons

Artist Rendering of Nanny of the Maroons, on Jamaica’s Five Hundred Bill, first circulated around 1976 when Jamaica declared her a National Heroine.

Artist Rendering of Queen Nanny of the Maroons, on Jamaica’s Five Hundred Bill, first circulated around 1976 when Jamaica declared her a National Heroine.

As a child, I remember visiting my mother in Jamaica and receiving a $500 Jamaican banknote. I was mesmerized by the elderly woman that exuded strength on the bill. I asked my mother about who she was and learned that Queen Nanny is a national heroine that fiercely fought against British slave owners to free more than 800 enslaved people and helped them relocate to the Maroon communities in the mountains throughout Jamaica. Queen Nanny was an Ashanti woman from Ghana who was captured and brought to Jamaica as a child. She escaped slavery with four men and formed a Maroon community in the Blue Mountains with one of them. These communities led various raids on plantations for weapons and food–often burning the plantations–and freeing the slaves. The geographic location of the Maroon settlements were strategic and deliberate: the rugged hills made it difficult for the British to attack the communities with any success. In 1733, the British government granted Queen Nanny and her community the land where they had settled. The 500 acres of land officially became Nanny Town, located high into the Blue Mountains of Portland. Although it is unclear when or how she died, Queen Nanny’s legacy still lives through Jamaican folklore and storytelling traditions.

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