Bill Clinton photo

Proclamation 6649—National Women and Girls in Sports Day, 1994

February 03, 1994

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

The inspiring story of Wilma Rudolph is among our most outstanding examples of the courage of women in sports. Wilma Rudolph literally sprinted onto the world stage during the 1960 Olympics, becoming the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field competition. What had transpired in her life before her great victory in Rome was perhaps even more astounding. The twentieth of twenty-two children, Wilma was born near Clarksville, Tennessee, weighing only 4-½ pounds. At the age of four, she was stricken with pneumonia, chicken pox, and polio, which left her crippled and with little hope of ever walking again. Through sheer determination and the love and support of family and coaches, Rudolph became an athlete of enormous talent and skill. However, hers was not only a personal victory. She was one of the first major role models for both Black and female athletes, and her unprecedented success caused gender barriers to be broken in previously all-male track and field events, like he Penn Relays.

As we celebrate the ability and commitment of women and girls in sports, we recognize that the life of Wilma Rudolph carries an important lesson for all of us. This stunning athletic sprinter, who raced like the wind, reminds us that women have long delighted in the thrill of athletic competition. They have demonstrated their versatility and have tested the limits of physical mastery and endurance.

With the adoption of the Education Amendments of 1972, American law offered women in colleges and universities the hope of enjoying the same governmental support that men's sports had always enjoyed. Title IX of that Act requires that those institutions receiving government funding provide equitable athletic programs for women. But even as we remember the passage of this historic legislation, we realize that true equality in the world of sports has not yet come. By applying the same virtues that make a successful athlete—commitment, spirit, and teamwork—all of us can play a role in providing women and girls the opportunities they deserve.

Wilma Rudolph has spent her lifetime trying to share what it has meant to be a woman in the world of sports, so that other young women have a chance to reach their dreams. On this day, let us emulate this goal—to encourage all women and girls to fulfill their true potential in any sport they choose. Let us hope that they, too, will enjoy the incomparable feeling of the wind at their backs.

The Congress, by Public Law 102–557, has designated February 3, 1994, as "National Women and Girls in Sports Day" and has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this day.

Now, Therefore, I, William J. Clinton, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim February 3, 1994, as National Women and Girls in Sports Day. I urge all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this third day of February, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and eighteenth.

Signature of William J. Clinton


William J. Clinton, Proclamation 6649—National Women and Girls in Sports Day, 1994 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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