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Synopsis

During the 1920s, before athletes such as slugger Jackie Robinson, Olympic great Jesse Owens, and boxer Joe Louis blazed new trails in the fight for equal rights, a forgotten group of African-American sportsmen risked their reputations, their careers, and even their very lives on a barnstorming motor sports tour. It was a time when heroes were measured not by the number of home runs hit or touchdowns scored, but rather by their ability to survive in an era of intense
racial prejudice.Photographs of Charlie Wiggins

Charlie Wiggins was one of these forgotten heroes. The humble mechanic and racecar owner lived in Indianapolis, Indiana, home to the world-famous Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. When auto racing's governing body turned away the talented black driver, Wiggins helped create a national racing league for African Americans. The most widely celebrated race for black drivers was the Gold and Glory Sweepstakes, an annual sporting event so grand it attracted the attention of national news agencies, as well as thousands of spectators coast to coast. Charlie was a four-time champion on the circuit, a distinction that earned him the title "the Negro Speed King."

For more than a decade, Charlie and other black drivers dared to run a dusty gauntlet, traveling to racing events in one small Midwestern town after another, steering clear of large ruts in the road as well as angry citizens who resented the presence of "coloreds" in their town. With their racecars and hopes in tow, Charlie Wiggins and the other black drivers dared to face overwhelming challenges to create new opportunities for African Americans in the realm of sports.

Photographs of Cars Racing in the Gold and Glory Sweepstakes

Narrated by acclaimed actor Ossie Davis and set to a memorable retro jazz score by Pulitzer and Grammy nominee Dr. David Baker, For Gold & Glory spotlights first-hand conversations with Charlie's wife Roberta (voice dramatist Ruby Dee), and features interviews with former Gold and Glory drivers, families, historians and witnesses to the old African-American auto racing events. Vivid recollections of Charlie's career capture images of the famed driver, such as his unexpected run-in with the KKK in Louisville, Kentucky, his outrageous stunts to help promote the Gold and Glory circuit, his deep and unwavering love for his wife, and his strange relationship with the notorious gunman
John Dillinger.

It was the early 1920s, and life was exciting, new, daring, and bold. Set against a colorful backdrop of gangsters, bootleggers, the birth of jazz, and the early history of auto racing in the United States, For Gold & Glory chronicles a uniquely American story, while capturing the exciting mood of this special era.

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