In honor of Black History Month, join us each day from February 10th to the 19th as we celebrate Black Angelenos who have influenced culture, social justice, and progress in Los Angeles and, in some instances, the nation.
Today we celebrate Florence Griffith-Joyner:
Born in Los Angeles and raised in the Jordan Downs public housing complex in Watts, Florence Griffith Joyner began running at age seven and by adolescence she was a star-athlete with straight-As. She captured the world in 1984 with her flashy outfits, long hair and even longer nails. In 1988 she became famously known as "Flo Jo," the fastest woman of all time. During the Olympic games in Seoul that year, Griffith-Joyner ran a recording breaking 100 meter dash at 10.49 seconds. Although the achievement was disputed by her competitors and the International Athletics Annual of the Association of Track and Field Statisticians as wind-assisted and steroid induced, investigations failed to support such claims. Her performance was recognized as a world record, which remains unbeaten to this day. Griffith died unexpectedly in her sleep at age 38 due to suffocation during an epileptic seizure.
Recipient of the James E. Sullivan Award in 1988 as the top amateur athlete in the U.S. In 1984, won 1 silver medal during the Olympics hosted in Los Angeles, California.
In 1987, earned 1 gold and 1 silver medal during the World Championship Games hosted in Rome, Italy.
In 1988, won 4 gold medals and 1 silver medals during the Olympics hosted Seoul, Korea.
Designed the basketball uniforms for the Indiana Pacers in 1989.
In 1995, inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame.
As we continue celebrating Black History Month with daily portraits of iconic Angelenos, check back for more features on other pioneering individuals and make sure to share this history with your friends and family. Click here for more portraits.