Harry Jerome’s 79th Birthday – “Never give up” was a fitting motto for Harry Jerome, the Canadian athlete who broke barriers as he broke records. Today’s Doodle, illustrated by Toronto-based guest artist Moya Garrison-Msingwana, depicts the statue of Jerome that stands in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. That city also hosts the annual Harry Jerome International Track Classic, a meet named in honor of the champion sprinter.
Born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan on this day in 1940, Harry Winston Jerome broke a Canadian record for the 220-yard sprint at age 18, soon earning an athletic scholarship to the University of Oregon. His grandfather John “Army” Howard had been the first black athlete to represent Canada in the Olympics. Jerome and his younger sister Valerie both carried on the family legacy, traveling to Rome to compete in the 1960 Olympic Games.
Although a pulled muscle prevented him from running in the finals, Jerome went on to represent Canada at two more Olympic Games, winning the bronze medal in 1964. He also won gold medals in the Pan American Games and Commonwealth Games. Starting in 1960, Jerome would equal or break four world sprinting records over the course of his career.
In 1969 Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau invited Jerome to help set up Canada’s Ministry of Sport. He was awarded the prestigious Order of Canada in 1971 and later named British Columbia’s Athlete of the Century. Inspiring young athletes of color to pursue their dreams and achieve their fullest potential, Jerome traveled across Canada holding sports clinics for high school students.
His life inspired the documentary film Mighty Jerome and his legacy is celebrated each year with the Harry Jerome Awards, which recognize excellence in Canada’s black community.
Here’s to a champion who never gave up.
Guest Artist Q&A with Moya Garrison-Msingwana
Today’s Doodle was created by Toronto-based guest artist Moya Garrison-Msingwana.
Below he shares his thoughts behind making the Doodle:
Q: Why was this topic meaningful to you personally?
A: Harry was an exceptional athlete and an inspiration for people of color and mixed heritage all over the country. As a person who fits into the latter category, I find his drive despite the odds really motivating.
Q: What were your first thoughts when you were approached about the project?
A: I was grateful to have been asked and excited to do what I love in celebration of such an important person on such a massive platform.
Q: Did you draw inspiration from anything in particular for this Doodle?
A: Mostly from video documentation of him in action on the track. It helped me attempt to capture his speed and power.
Q: What message do you hope people take away from your Doodle?
A: I hope people are able to leave with a genuine curiosity about Harry Jerome and appreciation for all his accomplishments. Despite the brevity of his life, he was able to achieve so much and make a contribution to Canada. I also hope people just enjoy the painting!
Early draft of the Doodle
You can find more about Harry Jerome’s 79th Birthday on the official Google Doodle Page