Why Did He Risk His Life To Compete?

Track athlete running
Via Pixy
Leslie Taylor-Grover
October 9, 2020

Eddie Gardner worked as a repairman during the last part of his life. He was well-loved by those around him, and yet behind his calm demeanor was a huge secret. What was it?

He’d made sports history in the 1920s. Back then, he entered the Bunion Derby in order to inspire Black people all over the nation, but he’d also done something no other Black person had when he ran in two of the most grueling cross country races in history, covering over 3400 miles. But the running had been the easy part.

Gardner’s trek was dangerous. There were chances for horrible injuries, and the terrain itself could be challenging. Still, Gardner had another very real threat, and it could prove deadly at any time. What was it?

He was Black. In places where 1920s Jim Crow was the law, his skin color would prove dangerous for him. He was a frontrunner in the race, and often he was threatened by whites with guns and racial slurs. So what happened with Gardner’s attempt to win?

Unfortunately, an injury caused him to drop out of the race, but not before he apologized to our people. Because his drive to win had everything to do with his bigger desire to inspire us. 

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