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.