Gabby Douglas

Image via RNS/John Sonderman/Flickr Creative Commons

The National Museum of African American History and Culture, set to open Sept. 24, tells many stories of African-Americans of diverse faiths who have shaped U.S. history. Close to 10 percent of the 2,586 artifacts in its inaugural exhibitions are related to faith and religious history.

Rex Ellis, associate director for curatorial affairs, said the museum is essentially an intersection of uplift, spirituality and resilience.

“There is no way you can discuss, talk about or understand the African-American journey without understanding the very real role faith played in its history,” said Ellis, an ordained Baptist minister.

Adam Ericksen 08-18-2016

Gabby Douglas mural. by Vic Damoses /

Ahh, America, the land of the free and the home of the badass Olympians.

But the Olympics has also given Americans an opportunity to rear our ugly heads. The Olympics have shown that in America, we aren’t really free. No, in America you have to play by the rules, and if you don’t live up to national expectations, even an Olympian can become America’s next scapegoat.

RNS photo courtesy Rogers & Cowan

RNS photo courtesy Rogers & Cowan

Gabrielle Douglas, who walked away with the gymnastic gold at the London Olympics, is out with her first book: Grace, Gold & Glory: My Leap of Faith. Douglas, who turns 17 on New Year’s Eve, talked with Religion News Service about her prayer life, her love of matzo ball soup and overcoming homesickness to make it to the Olympics.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: Everyone knows you as a gold medal Olympic gymnast, but how do you define yourself as a young woman of faith?

A: Faith plays a very big role in my life. I don’t know where I would be without it today. I’ve always been praying for everything. And my mom always exposed me and my siblings to being a Christian and the Bible. I was watching back and looking at the Olympics and my mouth is moving — and that’s me praying.

the Web Editors 09-06-2012
Gabby Douglas at the DNC in Charlotte, N.C. earlier this week.

Gabby Douglas at the DNC in Charlotte, N.C. earlier this week.

They call her the "Flying Squirrel" — Gabby Douglas, the pint-sized fire-cracker who won two gold medals (and the hearts of millions) at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Gabby can flip, tumble, vault, balance, swing, totally stick the landing, throw out the first ball at a Dodgers game, charm Jay Leno and Howard Stern (try that, Michael Phelps!), and high-five the First Lady — all the while exuding confidence, good humor and the greatest of ease through her cajillion-watt smile.

So, what's next for the 16-year-old wonderkid?

A tell-all book... about her Christian faith.

Gabby is working on her first book — a memoir titled Grace, Gold, and Glory: My Leap of Faith — which is expected to be published at the end of the year, according to an announcement made today by the Christian publishing house, Zondervan.