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Meet the Maryland woman who became the first Black gymnast at Univ. of Nebraska

WJLA – Washington D.C. logo WJLA – Washington D.C. 2/28/2021 Elliot Henney/ABC7
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All throughout Black History Month, ABC7 has been highlighting outstanding individuals who have broken barriers and made significant contributions to American history.  

Before the month wraps up, ABC7 brings you one more story about Prince George's County native Racine Williams who went on to become the first Black gymnast at the University of Nebraska. 

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Williams is anything but ordinary.  She didn't start dabbling in gymnastics until she was a teenager, unlike most gymnasts who start very early in life.  

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"I started very very late," Williams said.  

Her journey started when she was 13 after a friend asked her to accompany her to a gymnastics clinic one week during the summer.  

Caption: Prince George's County native Racine Williams became the first Black gymnast at the University of Nebraska. (Footage courtesy of Bridget Lewis){{ }}{p}{/p}

After the week was over, Williams said she had fallen in love with gymnastics and asked her parents for another week.  Still in love with it after two weeks, she asked her parents if she could stay the rest of the summer.  

At the end of the summer, the coach asked Williams if she would like to be on a team, and she enthusiastically said yes. 

"The rest is history," Williams said.  

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After turning heads in Maryland for a number of years, Williams headed off to America's heartland for college, becoming the first Black gymnast at the University of Nebraska. 

Overall, Williams said she had a great experience.  

"I had wonderful teammates, great coaching staff, some of the most exciting and happiest times of my life," Williams said.  

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While she adjusted well moving from the bustling D.C. area to Nebraska, there was one thing Williams said she really missed about home. 

Caption: Prince George's County native Racine Williams became the first Black gymnast at the University of Nebraska. (Footage courtesy of Bridget Lewis)

"Once I got out there, I did honestly miss listening to Black radio stations," Williams said.  "I didn't think that part out, but I did miss that."  

Her experience was very positive overall, but Williams did reflect on a few racial incidents that occurred that she had to brush aside and not let stand in the way of her goals.  

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"Just a couple of incidents," Williams said  "Being called the N-word, and someone asking me, 'Why, do you have a problem with me calling you the N-world?'" 

Outside of that, Williams reflected on her time as  Husker as some of the best days of her life.  

Caption: Prince George's County native Racine Williams became the first Black gymnast at the University of Nebraska. (Footage courtesy of Bridget Lewis)

As far as any young athletes who may follow similar trajectories, Williams says that with a little perseverance, you can achieve anything you wish.  

"For little black and brown girls in the gym working out - absolutely anything is possible," Williams said.  "Just keep striving and striving." 

You can watch Elliot Henney's full interview with Racine Williams below. 

Caption: Anne Arundel County resident Racine Williams reflects on her time as the first Black gymnast at the University of Nebraska.{{ }}

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