Wilma Rudolph, civil rights activist and gold medal winner
Wilma Rudolph illustrated by Kylie Akia.

Wilma
Rudolph
1940–1994

Born prematurely in St. Bethlehem, Tennessee, Wilma Rudolph overcame multiple childhood illnesses, including polio, to become an Olympic champion in track and field. In the 1960’s games, she became the first American woman to win three gold medals, earning her the acclimation of the “fastest woman in the world.” She retired from the sport at the peak of her career, instead earning a bachelor’s degree from Tennessee University and continuing on as a teacher and coach. Her accomplishments helped garner support for women’s track and field. She was also a civil rights activist, and, after her career, worked at nonprofits that encouraged athletic development in children.


Kylie Akia is a digital freelance illustrator and painter residing in Chicago, IL. Her work creates a narrative of juxtaposition with the use of color and subject and broadcasts the underrepresented in a colorful and uplifting light. kylieakia.com