2007 Regular Session

To: Rules

By: Senator(s) Jordan, Albritton, Posey, Gollott, Moffatt, Mettetal, Carmichael, Dawkins, Dearing, Pickering, Harden, Little, Horhn, Jackson (32nd), Lee (35th), White, Jackson (15th), King, Chaney, Burton, Wilemon, Fillingane, Davis, Doxey, Chassaniol, Williamson, Simmons, Jackson (11th), Thomas, Butler, Walls, Nunnelee, Frazier, Walley, Brown, Clarke, Kirby

Senate Concurrent Resolution 576

(As Adopted by Senate and House)


     WHEREAS, Willye B. White of Greenwood, Mississippi, who willed her way out of the Mississippi Delta cotton fields and became the first American track and field athlete to compete in five Olympics, died on February 7, 2007, at the age of 67, in Chicago, Illinois; and

     WHEREAS, Willye White competed in every Olympics Game from 1956 through 1972, and an injury kept her off the 1976 team.  She won a Silver Medal in the long jump in 1956, when she was a 16-year-old high school Sophomore, and another in the 4x100-meter relay in 1964; and

     WHEREAS, two-time silver medalist Willye White participated on five United States Olympic teams at five Olympiads; in 1956, Melbourne, Australia; 1960, Rome, Italy; 1964, Tokyo, Japan; 1968, Mexico City, Mexico; and 1972, Munich, Germany; and

     WHEREAS, Willye White is the first woman from Mississippi to compete in the Olympic Games and win a medal; and

     WHEREAS, she was America's best female long jumper for almost two decades, with a career best of 21 feet 6 inches.  She won nine consecutive United States outdoor championships, set seven American records and, by her count, competed in 150 nations.  At 5'4" and 130 pounds, she could perform weight-lifting squats with more than 380 pounds; and

     WHEREAS, Willye White was born December 31, 1939, in Money, Mississippi, and grew up in Greenwood, where she was raised by her grandparents; and

     WHEREAS, she started chopping cotton when she was ten, Willye told Sports Illustrated in 1975.  The only way she could get any recognition was through sports; and

     WHEREAS, White started track as a ten-year-old sprinter, then turned to the long jump because, for every 500 sprinters there were only two long jumpers.  She later entered Tennessee State University, where the track coach was the renowned Ed Temple.  In 1960, she moved to Chicago and, in 1976, earned a degree in Public Health Administration from Chicago State University; and

     WHEREAS, she started her career as a practical nurse.  Then she spent 37 years working in city government as a health administrator, a director of recreational services and a creator of sports programs for young girls in housing projects.  In 1991, she founded the Willye White Foundation to help children develop self-esteem; and

     WHEREAS, as a member of 39 international sports teams over the course of her career, Willye competed in more than 150 nations.  She represented her sport on the U.S. Olympic Committee, was a Coach for the National Sports Festival in 1979 and 1981, was Coach and Manager for the 1981 World Cup Track and Field Championship in Brussels and Rome, and was Head Coach for the 1994 Olympic Sports Festival; and

     WHEREAS, a native of Greenwood, Mississippi, a 1959 graduate of Broad Street High School, and a graduate of Chicago State University, Willye was a member of the National Association of Sports and Physical Education Hall of Fame, the Black Sports Hall of Fame, the Women Sports Foundation Hall of Fame, the National Track and Field Hall of Fame, the Chicago Sports Hall of Fame, the Helms Hall of Fame, the Mississippi State University Hall of Fame and the Tennessee State University Hall of Fame.  She was on the Board of Directors of the American Council on Exercise, the Illinois Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Health and numerous other athletic boards and committees; and

     WHEREAS, Willye had a broad range of experience as a sports commentator and broadcaster with NBC, CBS, ESPN, WTBS and Armed Forces Radio.  She was the official spokesperson for the AAU Junior Olympics from 1983 through 1987; Willye was Founder and President of the Willye White Foundation and WBW Hang On Productions; and

     WHEREAS, White is survived by a brother and a sister; and

     WHEREAS, it is with sadness that we note the passing of this star athlete and role model for future Olympians, whose career and accomplishments brought honor to her school, her community and to the State of Mississippi:

     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CONCURRING THEREIN, That we do hereby commend the life of Willye B. White, the first woman from Mississippi to compete and win a medal in the Olympic Games and the first 5-Time United States Track Olympian, and express to her surviving family the sympathy of the Legislature on her passing.

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That this resolution be presented to the surviving family of Willye White and be made available to the Capitol Press Corps.