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#SayHerName: Twitter Shuts Down Newspaper for Relegating Simone Manuel’s Historic Win to Simply ‘African-American’

Simone Manuel makes history as the first African-American to win gold in an individual swimming event (NBC)

Simone Manuel makes history as the first African-American to win gold in an individual swimming event (NBC)

Simone Manuel made history at the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil last night when she took home the gold in the women’s 100 meter freestyle. The Houston, Texas native became the first African-American to win the top prize in an individual swimming event. But coverage of her special victory was low, especially since she set an Olympic record. It mirrored the lack of reporting on Manuel’s first place position in semifinal 1 Aug. 10.

Last night, she tied with Canada’s Penny Oleksiak, who also earned a gold medal. Both swimmers came in at 52.70 seconds. After the race ended, NBC showed the Stanford student’s stunned reaction before going to a post game interview.

“This medal is not just for me, it’s for a whole bunch of people who have came before me and have been an inspiration to me,” she told the network.

Instead of airing the medal ceremony, NBC elected to show footage of Russian gymnasts competing in the women’s individual all-around final. BBC, however, covered Manuel receiving her medal.

The American network finally showed the ceremony an hour after it first aired.

In the morning after Manuel’s history-making accomplishment, California newspaper The San Jose Mercury News was caught in a firestorm for its headline of Team USA’s Olympic swimming medals.


The headline originally acknowledged Michael Phelps’ historic night while ignoring Manuel. It only referred to her as “African-American.”

Twitter put the paper on blast for the reductive title.

@DatKaren equated the gaffe to Donald Trump.

User Philip Bank$ mentioned the publication was a few miles away from the 20-year-old Olympian’s college, Stanford University.

Sarah Fidelibus called it “terrible.”

Mercury News ultimately changed the article header and issued an apology. The new headline reads, “Olympics: Stanford’s Simone Manuel and Michael Phelps make history.”

But the damage from the original “insensitive” title was already done.

Valencia questioned why the paper wrote the headline in the first place.

@DL_StyleMaven called the apology “cheap and insincere.”

And Yoni Blumberg still thought the new title reflected the wrong part of the story.

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