Posted in Black History

Audrey Patterson

Audrey Patterson (September 27, 1926 — August 23, 1996) was the first African American woman to win an Olympic medal; she won a bronze medal in the 200-meter dash at the 1948 Olympic Games in London.

Patterson was born in New Orleans to Lionel Patterson and Josephine Nero Patterson.[1] She attended Danneel Elementary School and Gilbert Academy,[citation needed] where she developed a passion for running. She earned a scholarship to Tennessee State University in Nashville and graduated from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Unbeaten as a prep and college competitor, she was a star in the 100- and 200-meter races and 400-meter relay and a national and international champion in the two individual events. She won the 200-meter race at the U.S. Olympic trials in 1948, making her one of nine black American female track athletes to compete at the London Games. She was 22 when she won her Olympic medal, covering the 200 meters in 25.2 seconds, the same time as Shirley Strickland of Australia.

It took officials 45 minutes to decide that Miss Patterson would get the bronze medal; Strickland was placed fourth. Fanny Blankers-Koen of the Netherlands, considered the greatest female Olympian of her time, won the race, earning her third gold medal of the 1948 games. In receiving the bronze medal, Patterson is distinguished as the United States’ first African-American woman to win an Olympic medal. A few days later Alice Coachman won a gold medal at the high jump. The London games were also the first time, the 200 meter distance race was included for women competitors.[2]

In 1965, she founded Mickey’s Missiles, a track club for girls 6 to 18. Boys joined the group several years later. It grew from three members its first year to more than 125 and produced Olympic sprinters Jackie Thompson, who competed in the 200-meter race in 1972, and Dennis Mitchell, who ran in the 100-meter dash in 1988, 1992 and 1996. She managed the U.S. women’s track team that toured the Soviet Union and Germany in 1969 and coached the team that competed against a Russian squad in Texas in 1974. In 1982, she founded the Martin Luther King Freedom Run in San Diego.

Patterson was named the Woman Athlete of the Year by the Amateur Athletic Union in 1949. She served as First Vice President of the Amateur Athletic Union, Director of the Pacific Southwest Association and the YMCA, Governor of the Western District of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women, and a member of the Urban League, NAACP and 1984 Olympic Spirit Team. She received the San Diego Woman of the Year and Press Club Headliner awards. In 1978, she was inducted into the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame. Soon after, she was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame at the Superdome.

She married Ronald Tyler, and settled in San Diego. She was the mother of two sons, Herbert Hunter and Gerald Hunter, and two daughters, Cynthia Lowery and Andrea Nelson. Patterson died on August 23, 1996, in National City, California.



  1. ^ Nero Family History
  2. ^ Times-Picayune, 8-31-1996


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18 thoughts on “Audrey Patterson

      1. Happy Monday, precious sister. I’m on new medication for my back. If not better there might be an MRI ordered. The oncologist believes it’s the tumors pressing on nerves; and I’ve had back issues before quite severely. You completely understand pain. My platelets were up enough to move forward with treatment, finally!, on April 13th. My red, white, and hemoglobin still down. I’m expecting a call today (blood was given on Friday) and they might possibly give me infusion to help prior to next treatment. These are tough decisions, Tangie. The treatments are shrinking tumors and my bone marrow has taken irreparable damage. I pray the decision to complete these next two (they will only give me 4 and after that, nothing can be done) will show further positive impact. I don’t feel good some days. But my heart and spirit are happy! There’s a peace and joy that we both know! It comes from Christ~just as my ultimate healing is in his hands so I don’t worry! I just try hard to listen to the Spirit. I’m soaking in this beautiful Holy Week! I love it so much! Have a blessed Holy Monday, sweet sister. I pray for you when I’m lifting and speaking words of life into myself and others at prayer time. Please take care. Many blessings and prayers. Love, Karla 💚🙏🏻🙏🏻

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      2. I am so sorry to hear this, Karla. The trials of life can really get us down, but the blood of Jesus keep us lifted up. He got you! I understand and it is not easy living with chronic pain from numerous medical conditions but they God for life and for sustaining us. I am ready to get my fourth carpal tunnel surgery over with tomorrow so I can get more relief in my left arm and hand. You take care Dear Karla and Happy Monday to you. Love, Tangie

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      3. Hi Karla, thank you so much 😊. I am not in pain at the moment since numbing meds from yesterday has not worn off, but from past three CaTS surgeries pain is expected soon. How are you?

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      4. I’m glad to hear that my friend! But,…I’m praying for soon-to-experience pain! I received a call a few minutes ago. I have an MRI scheduled for May 9th. I’ll have treatment a week from tomorrow. I have family and praying, in-home care, coming to help out. I didn’t sleep last night much. God put words in my heart to share so I hope to write some and rest! Please take care! Prayers and hugs my friend, ❤️🙏🏻

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