He was called the “World’s Fastest Human,” and he excelled on and off the track.
Ralph Metcalfe was born in Atlanta in 1910 and became one of the fastest track stars in the world. He won a host of national titles and tied the world record in the 100 and 200 meters. Metcalfe competed in both the 1932 and ’36 Olympics, winning one gold medal, two silvers, and one bronze. He won silver in the 100-meter dash in ’32, losing in a photo finish. In 1936, he finished second again. The winner, by a tenth of a second: Jesse Owens.
Metcalfe graduated from Marquette University and earned a master’s degree at the University of Southern California before serving in World War II. In 1949 he won election as a Chicago alderman before serving in the U.S. Congress, where he was co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus.
The public servant inducted into the U.S. Track and Field Hall of Fame was born in Atlanta on May 30, 1910, Today in Georgia History.
Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.