America's Oldest Living Black Olympic Medalist Herb Douglas recalls winning bronze at ’48 London Olympics



Updated: 5:18 p.m. Thursday, July 12, 2012 | Posted: 12:03 p.m. Thursday, July 12, 2012

PITTSBURGH — The last time London hosted an Olympics, World War II had just ended and a young man from Hazelwood was jumping his way onto the podium. 

Herb Douglas, 90, said that leap opened doors for him to make even more history. 

“That was a paramount time in my life. It always will be. It’s opened up doors,” he told Channel 11’s Alby Oxenreiter. 

Douglas won a bronze medal in the long jump in the 1948 London Olympics. He is the oldest living African-American Olympic medalist. 

His legacy is now pictured on the walls of the Heinz History Center. 

“You know you had won a medal,” he recalled. “You stood up on a podium, represented the USA. Hardly a year goes by when I don’t think about it many, many times.” 

Douglas grew up in Hazelwood and was attending college in Louisiana when World War II broke out. He returned to Pittsburgh to help with his father’s business and enrolled at Pitt, where he became a track star. 

He lives in Philadelphia now, but never misses an opportunity to come home to Pittsburgh. 

He was recently at the Heinz History Center where he donated items. 

“Who better than Olympian Herb Douglas to have a time capsule here at the History Center?” asked President and CEO Andy Masich. “He made history. It’s our job to preserve it.” 

The time capsule includes pictures of the athletes, world leaders and presidents he knows, including President Barack Obama, whom he recently met 

“As I walked up to him and shook his hand, he said, ‘I’m standing on your shoulders.’ Needless to say, he knew what I had gone through, and I knew what he’s gone through,” Douglas said. 

Douglas’ success isn’t just with sports. He earned two degrees from Pitt and last year received an honorary degree from Xavier University of Louisiana. 

In 1963, he became just the third African-American to be a vice president of a major North American company. 

Douglas already made plans to be in London for the Summer Olympics and hopes to watch some of the track and field events.

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