Sprinting, leaping and twisting over the high jump, Clevelander David Albritton grabbed first place in the high jump at the AAU championships. It was his second accolade of the year, having also tied for first place in the NCAA. Albritton was one of the first to pioneer the straddle technique, which propelled him to considerable track and field success. But by this time, AAU and NCAA titles were far from Albritton’s biggest achievements.
Albritton was raised in Cleveland, where he attended East Technical High School. He showed promise as a track star and, in 1936, traveled with fellow East Tech graduate Jesse Owens and teammate Cornelius Johnson to the Olympics, hosted in Berlin by the Nazi regime. In the Olympic trials, Albritton tied with Johnson in the high jump, flying to 6 feet 9 3/4 inches. He took silver after Johnson, helping punch a hole in the myth of the “superior Aryan race,” in the presence of Adolf Hitler himself.
Back home, Albritton moved to Dayton, where he taught industrial arts at Dunbar High School beginning in 1942, and sold insurance. He took or tied for first place in AAU championships five times until 1950, while also coaching Dunbar’s track team, which under his guidance won state championship titles three times. In 1960, Albritton also won a seat in the Ohio House of Representatives. He remained there for six terms. When he was named chair of the House Interstate Cooperation Committee in 1969, Albritton made history again as the first African American to lead a House committee in Ohio.