BASN Classic BlackBox: Waiting 70 Years For Justice John Woodruff 800 Meter Champion

Updated: October 2, 2007

A BASN Classic BlackBox Last Updated:June 30, 2007 WAITING 70 YEARS FOR JUSTICE


This inspiring story unites

a group of middle school students

and a 91 year old Black man

and his Quest to be awarded

the world record he won

back in 1937

Here is what happened back in 1937 in Dallas running, to John Woodruff in the 800 meter he appeared to clearly break the existing world record for the 800 meter. Not only beat it by by an astonishing almost 2 seconds. The same year he won the Gold Medal for the 800 meter at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

Except that “officials” stole the record

From John Woodruff later contending that the track the very track they certified for that 800 meter race was actually about 2 feet short of 800 meters. There never was any doubt among Woodruff’s supporters that ge was denied the record because he was an African American who was racing track in a very segregated and bigoted 1930s Dallas deep in the Jim Crow South.

While admittedly not widely known the controversy and the outrage has lived on for 70 years. Last fall a group of young students in their math class got wind of the story in Grand Prairie, Texas and they under the direction of their female math teacher decided to try and use math to prove Woodruff’s record.

Let’s also add another name to the story. Bill Cosby yes Bill Cosby who independent of these students took up Woodruff’s cause becoming convinced the track was not too short at all but that Woodruff was railroaded by some 30‘s Crackers.

Masquerading as track & field officials. Cosby enlisted college experts to try and prove this Cotton Bowl race was “fixed.”

Neither the Grand Prairie students or Bill Cosby have so far brought resolution to the Controversy not to the extent that the records are yet being changed to reflect the Truth but they are allowing John Woodruff in failing health at 91 to finally get some of the attention he deserved for breaking the record.

Next week most of all Southern Methodist University will be honoring John Woodruff for all his achievements with many notables in attendance both Black and White. Woodruff will be honored for his 1936 Olympic Gold Medal, the master’s degree he earned in sociology being a student athlete way back 70 years ago.

Woodruff will be honored for serving his Country both in World War II as a Lieutenant and Captain and then again the the Korean War a Lieutenant Colonel, and for living an exemplary life for 91 years and honored for holding the world record in the 800 meter no matter what the record books say.

Woodruff’s other track records include winning one AAU title in 800 meter in 1937 and won both 440 yd and 880 yd IC4A titles from 1937 to 1939. Woodruff also held a share of the world 4 x 880 yd relay record competing with the national team all while his career was cut short as he served the nation in war.

Now as they young students have proven

in little Grand Prairie Texas

whether the track was short or not

and regardless of official indifference

that has continued for 70 years

makes no mistake John Woodruff won

the 800 meter world record either way

in Dallas Texas on a summer day in 1937

with absolute mathematical certainty

Congratulations Mr. Woodruff

for all you’ve done.

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Students at Grand Prairie School STUDENTS AT GRAND PRAIRIE SCHOOL