Nothing to See Here but Olympic Gold

The Cold War's Goodwill Tours of African-American Athletes

During the Cold War, the United States ratcheted up efforts to send prominent cultural figures, including successful Black athletes, on overseas tours to showcase and promote the “American Dream” and counter a powerful Soviet claim: That Black Americans were oppressed in a system of racial apartheid. Meanwhile, Black athletes themselves were transformed through their experiences on these trips, returning home further inspired to hold their nation accountable to its founding principles. Much like the public diplomacy officials who sent them overseas, these athletes also recognized the power of sport to accomplish their goals.

New America's Future Security Program and ASU's Great Game Lab invite you to join Damion Thomas, Sports Curator at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and author of Globetrotters: African American Athletes and Cold War Politics; Wyomia Tyus, Olympic track-and-field gold medalist in 1964 and 1968; and Amira Rose Davis, author of the forthcoming Can’t Eat a Medal: The Lives and Labors of Black Women Athletes in the Age of Jim Crow, as they discuss this history and what it means for athlete activism and contemporary sporting geopolitics.


Damion Thomas, Museum Curator of Sports at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Amira Rose Davis, Assistant Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies, University of Texas-Austin

Wyomia Tyus, Gold Medalist in 100m dash in 1964 and 1968 Olympics, Goodwill Ambassador

Victoria Jackson, Co-Director of Great Game Lab and Associate Clinical Professor of History, Arizona State University