The first American track and field athlete to compete in five Olympics, from 1956 to 1972, White was America's best female long jumper of the time. She won two Olympic silver medals, nine consecutive U.S. outdoor championships, and set seven American records. She was elected to eleven halls of fame, including those of International Women's Sports, National Track and Field, and Black Sports.
She moved to Chicago in 1960, and became a city government health administrator and director of recreational services. In 1991, she founded the Willye White Foundation to help children.