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H.R. 4130 (112th): Althea Gibson Excellence Act

The text of the bill below is as of Mar 1, 2012 (Introduced). The bill was not enacted into law.



2d Session

H. R. 4130


March 1, 2012

(for himself and Mr. Rangel) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Financial Services


To award posthumously a Congressional Gold Medal to Althea Gibson, in recognition of her groundbreaking achievements in athletics and her commitment to ending racial discrimination and prejudice within the world of athletics.


Short title

This Act may be cited as the Althea Gibson Excellence Act.



The Congress finds the following:


Althea Gibson was born August 25, 1927, in Silver, South Carolina.


Althea Gibson lived with her family in Harlem during the 1930s and 1940s. She was first introduced to tennis on the Harlem River Tennis Courts. She went on to dominate the all-Black American Tennis Association tournaments throughout the early 1940s, when racism and segregation prevented her from participating in tournaments sponsored by the United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA).


Althea Gibson graduated from Florida A & M University in 1953, and was an athletic instructor at the Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri.


Despite her extraordinary athletic prowess, Althea was repeatedly denied entry into the world’s top tennis tournaments based on the color of her skin. Alice Marble, a four-time U.S. Open champion, wrote a historic editorial published in the July 1950 American Lawn Tennis magazine, condemning the sport of tennis for excluding players of Althea Gibson’s caliber.


Althea excelled in the Eastern Grass Court Championships at the Orange Lawn Tennis Club in South Orange, New Jersey. Her outstanding grass play caused the USLTA to reevaluate its policy providing Althea a bid to Forest Hills.


Althea was the first African-American to win championships at famous tournaments, such as the French Open, the United States Open, the Australian Doubles, and Wimbledon in the 1950s.


Althea broke the color barrier to become the first African-American player, either male or female, to be allowed to enter the Forest Hills, New York, Championship in 1950.


Althea Gibson’s tennis career flourished, even in the face of discrimination. She was the first African-American invited to Wimbledon in 1951, eventually winning both the women’s singles and doubles in 1957 and 1958.


She would go on to become the first African-American woman to win the championship at the French Open in 1956.


During her career, she won 56 doubles and singles titles before gaining national and international acclaim for her athletic feats in professional tennis leagues. In the late 1950s, Gibson won eleven major titles including three straight doubles at the French Open in 1956, 1957, and 1958 and the U.S. Open in 1957 and 1958.


Althea was the first African-American to be named as the Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press in 1957. She was given that honor again the following year. When she won her second U.S. Championship, she went professional at the age of 31.


As further evidence to Althea’s athletic gift, after finishing her amateur tennis career, she became a professional golfer in 1959. She was also the first African-American woman to hold a membership in the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LGPA).


After retiring from golf, Althea Gibson shifted her focus to public service. In 1975, Althea Gibson was named the New Jersey Commissioner of Athletics. She held this position and also served on both the State's Athletics Control Board and the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness.


Althea Gibson was inducted into the prestigious International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1971 and to the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1980.


In 1991, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) honored Althea Gibson with the Theodore Roosevelt Award, the highest honor the organization may confer on an individual. She was the first woman ever to receive this distinguished honor.


Althea passed away in East Orange, NJ, on September 28, 2003.


Althea Gibson was a trailblazer whose experiences and successes paved the way for other great African-American tennis players like Arthur Ashe.


The legacy of Althea Gibson continues to serve as an inspiration and a shining example for the Nation’s youth.


Joining the ranks of other distinguished Congressional Gold Medal recipients would be a fitting accolade to the achievements of Althea Gibson.


Congressional gold medal


Presentation Authorized

The Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate shall make appropriate arrangements for the posthumous presentation, on behalf of the Congress, of a gold medal of appropriate design in commemoration of Althea Gibson, in recognition of her groundbreaking achievements in athletics and her commitment to ending racial discrimination and prejudice within the world of athletics.


Design and striking

For purposes of the presentation referred to in subsection (a), the Secretary of the Treasury (referred to in this Act as the Secretary) shall strike a gold medal with suitable emblems, devices, and inscriptions, to be determined by the Secretary.


Duplicate medals

The Secretary may strike and sell duplicates in bronze of the gold medal struck pursuant to section 3 under such regulations as the Secretary may prescribe, at a price sufficient to cover the cost thereof, including labor, materials, dies, use of machinery, and overhead expenses, and the cost of the gold medal.


Status of medals


National medals

The medals struck pursuant to this Act are national medals for purposes of chapter 51 of title 31, United States Code.


Numismatic items

For purposes of section 5134 of title 31, United States Code, all medals struck under this Act shall be considered to be numismatic items.


Authority To use fund amounts; proceeds of sale


Authority To use fund amounts

There is authorized to be charged against the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund, such amounts as may be necessary to pay for the costs of the medals struck pursuant to this Act.


Proceeds of sale

Amounts received from the sale of duplicate bronze medals authorized under section 4 shall be deposited into the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund.