Dominique Dawes

Civil Rights Activist

Dominique Dawes was born in Silver Spring, Maryland, on November 20, 1976.At the  age of 9, she would write the word "determination" in crayon on a mirror in order to prepare herself for gymnastics meet;an attitude that would pay off as she moved on to higher levels of competition.

Dawes again made the cut for the 1996 U.S. Olympic team. Thanks in part to Dawes outstanding performance, the U.S. team, nicknamed the "Magnificent Seven," won gold in Atlanta;becoming the first U.S. women's gymnastics team to do so in Olympic history.

Outside of competition, Dawes career has varied from motivational speaking to an acting career . She has worked to encourage young people to be active, serving as president of the Women's Sports Foundation and as part of Michelle Obama's "Let's Move Active Schools" campaign. Dawes also became co-chair of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition in 2010.

Dawes, who entered the USA Gymnastics' Hall of Fame in 2005, has inspired an untold number of girls with her success. But it wasn't until she watched Halle Berry win an Academy Award (Berry was the first African American to win a Best Actress Oscar, for 2001's Monster's Ball) that Dawes fully realized the power of the example she had set.

Dawes remained involved in gymnastics by providing coverage for the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. She was able to see Gabby Douglas become the first African American to win an individual gold medal in the all-around competition in 2012, and was thrilled that another generation of girls would be able to look up to Douglas the way others had looked up to her.

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