By Jesse Spellman

Prior to the New York City marathon, the New York Historical society opened a brand-new exhibit that gives us a history lesson on the true creation of the New York City Marathon, from the inception, the idea, and the true brainchild behind one of the largest marathons that we know today with the participation of over 52 thousand runners.

As I sit here typing I don’t want to approach it from an angle of what you can see if you visit this exhibit, so I’ll write this from an angle of being a runner, being black and the tremendous sense of education that I learned while attending the opening night of this exhibit. Walking into this I knew the history based on what I learned over the last 6 years of my running journey. Prior to that I had no clue or inclination of who Ted Corbitt or Joseph Yancy was. I knew of the New York City marathon obviously; I knew that it was one of the largest marathons to take place and I knew based on what I’ve heard in the past that Fred Lebow was one of the folks that helped to create this event. As my running journey progressed two names that I consistently heard were always Theodore Ted Corbitt and Joseph Yancy co-founders of the interracial New York Pioneer Club in Harlem in 1936. For the next 34 years these two men would go on to change the trajectory of Black runners and distance running within the New York City community, especially within Harlem NYC.

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