100 Moments: Patterson Cements Her Legacy
Monday, September 17, 2012
100 Moments: Patterson Cements Her Legacy

The 100 Moments of TSU Athletics presented by Taco Bell® series continues by remembering one of the first great Tigerbelles in Tennessee State history.

Audrey Patterson, born September 27, 1926 in New Orleans, Louisiana, grew up with a passion for running track and field. Her passion and skill earned her a scholarship to Tennessee State where she immediately found success.

At Tennessee State, Patterson completed an unbeaten season and broke the American and indoor records in the 200-yard dash with a time of 26.4 seconds in the National AAU Women's indoor track and field championships.

Soon after, Patterson went to Providence, Rhode Island, for the trials in the 1948 Olympics and earned her position on the U.S. Women's All-American Track and Field team for the London Olympics. Patterson was one of the nine black females on the 12-member team.

Patterson was the first black American female to win an Olympic medal in the history of the Olympic Games at the London Olympic Games in 1948- the last time the games were held in London before the 2012 Olympic Games.  She was 22-years-old when she won her Olympic bronze medal when she ran the 200 meters in a time of 25.2 seconds. 

President Harry Truman honored Patterson by inviting her to the White House for a congratulatory visit after her history-making Olympic performance. In 1949, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) named Audrey Patterson Woman athlete of the year.

Patterson settled in San Diego, Cal. in 1964, where she founded Mickey's Missiles Track club for girls ages six to 18 in 1965. The club was a success and it even produced Olympic sprinter Jackie Thompson who competed in the 200-meter race in 1972.

In her goal to promote physical fitness and racial harmony, Patterson coached and counseled more than 5,000 athletes over the years giving back to the community.

In 1982, Patterson founded the Martin Luther King Freedom Run in San Diego and was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

The 100 Moments of TSU Athletics presented by Taco Bell® highlights some of the greatest moments in honor of Tennessee State's centennial celebration. A new moment will be released each weekday for a total of 100. These moments were chosen by the TSU 100 Moments committee, which consists of alums from various departments. TSU has so many great moments, not all can be represented in these 100.

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