Metcalfe, Ralph H., 1910-1978

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Ralph Harold Metcalfe Sr. (May 29, 1910 – October 10, 1978) was an American track and field sprinter and politician. He jointly held the world record in the 100-meter dash and placed second in that event in two Olympics, first to Eddie Tolan in 1932 at Los Angeles and then to Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany. Metcalfe won four Olympic medals and was regarded as the world's fastest human in 1934 and 1935. He later went into politics in the city of Chicago and served in the United States Congress for four terms in the 1970s as a Democrat from Illinois.

After earning his bachelor's degree at Marquette in 1936, Metcalfe completed a master's degree at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles in 1939. Metcalfe taught political science and coached track at Xavier University in New Orleans, recruiting athletes to the University like Jimmie McDaniel and Herb Douglas. He served in the transportation corps of U.S. Army in World War II, rising to the rank of first lieutenant and awarded the Legion of Merit medal. After the war, he moved back to Chicago and later headed the state's athletic commission.

In 1955, Metcalfe won the first of four elections as an alderman representing the South Side of Chicago. He ran for an open seat in Congress in 1970 as a Democrat and was easily elected from Illinois' first district. The seat had been filled for 28 years by William L. Dawson, who was retiring at age 84 due to poor health and then died less than a week after the 1970 election. Metcalfe was a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) in 1971 and later was noted for breaking ranks with Chicago mayor Richard Daley after incidents of police brutality.

Metcalfe was seeking a fifth term in 1978 when he died at his Chicago home on October 10 of an apparent heart attack at age 68.

Relation Name
associatedWith African American Police League (Chicago, Ill.) corporateBody
memberOf Chicago (Ill.). City Council corporateBody
employeeOf Illinois State Athletic Commission. corporateBody
alumnusOrAlumnaOf Marquette university corporateBody
associatedWith National Organization for Women. corporateBody
associatedWith Olympic Games 10th 1932 Los Angeles, Calif. corporateBody
associatedWith Olympic Games 11th 1936 Berlin, Germany corporateBody
memberOf United States. Army corporateBody
memberOf United States. Congress. House person
alumnusOrAlumnaOf University of Southern California. corporateBody
employeeOf Xavier university of Louisiana corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Milwaukee WI US
Atlanta GA US
Chicago IL US
Los Angeles CA US
New Orleans LA US
Olympic Athlete
Representatives, U.S. Congress--Illinois
Professors (teacher)
Army officers
City Councilman


Birth 1910-05-29

Death 1978-10-10






Ark ID: w64k15f6

SNAC ID: 85330446