Untold Story of 1960s Women’s Olympic Glory Featured at Sawyer Free Library Author Talk


It’s an inspiring story that transcends athletic performance.  And its been a. largely untold one that a local author has worked hard to correct.

The Tigerbelles: Olympic Legends from Tennessee State, written by Aime Alley Card, chronicles the 1960 Tennessee State University all-Black women’s track team, which found Olympic glory at the 1960 games in Rome. It is an epic story of desire, success, and failure—of beating the odds—against the backdrop of a changing America. 

Published this month to coincide with Women’s History Month in March,  the author, who lives in Wenham, will speak as part of the Sawyer Free Library’s author event series from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 7, at the library, 21 Main Street (upstairs) in Gloucester.

Ms. Alley Card will also sign books and speak from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 21 at The Book Shop of Beverly Farms.

“My intention is to tell an epic story of desire, success, and failure beating the odds against the backdrop of a changing America, but to tell it in an intimate way,” said Alley Card.   “Readers will come to know the individuals' unique struggles and triumphs, while also understanding how these dreams emerged and solidified just as the country was struggling to leave the Jim Crow era behind.”

Tigerbelles is a multi-layered inspirational tale of triumph over adversity.  The elite group of talent includes Wilma Rudolph, Barbara Jones, Lucinda Williams, Martha Hudson, Willye B. White, and Shirley Crowder.  These are women who once were and should still be known worldwide.  Ultimately, the team's drive is for more than medals.  Their coach, Edward Temple, and the Tigerbelles offer a challenge to the world's perception of what a group of young Black women in the Jim Crow South are capable of.

For the past several years, Aime Alley Card has been researching, interviewing, and writing about the Tennessee State Tigerbelles and those who supported them along their path.  She conducted and reviewed hundreds of hours of interviews and read just as many books and articles, ranging from concurrent to retrospective. She is a nonfiction editor for Pangyrus literary magazine and a board member for the Women’s National Book Association, Boston Chapter.  She also serves on her town’s cultural council that supports educational programs.