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This Day in Georgia History

April 01, 1988

Nell Jackson Died

Nell Jackson, a pioneer in women’s track and field, died. Born July 1, 1929 in Athens, Georgia, she attended Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. While a student there, she was a member of the 1948 U.S. Olympic track team. In 1951, Jackson also competed in the first Pan-American Games, taking second place in the 200-meter race and serving on the first-place sprint relay team. Later, she held the U.S. 200-meter record. Jackson became women’s track coach at Tuskegee, Illinois State, Illinois, and Michigan State. Jackson was head coach of the women’s U.S. Olympic team in 1956 and 1972 - becoming the first African American to serve as head coach of a U.S. Olympic team. Jackson served many athletic organizations, including the U.S. Olympic Committee and the International Amateur Athletic Federation. She obtained her doctorate and went on to become director of physical education at the State University of New York in Binghamton. The year after her death, Jackson was inducted into the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame.