New Doc Tells Story Of Black Athletes At 1936 Summer Olympics
This month serves as the 80 year anniversary of the 1936 Summer Olympics, arguably one of the most controversial and important Olympic ceremonies of all time for a number of reasons.
The Games served as a monumental moment for black athletes, as track-and-field athlete Jesse Owens achieved international fame by winning four gold medals. Owens had made a fool of Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler, who wanted to use the Games to promote his government and ideals of racial supremacy, initially banning black people and Jews from participating. In a piece honoring Owens for ESPN writer Larry Schwartzcredited the athlete as having "single-handedly crushed Hitler's myth of Aryan supremacy."
However, Owens wasn't the only black athlete at the 1936 Summer Olympics, which the forthcoming documentary, Olympic Pride, AmericanPrejudice, focuses on. Directed by Deborah Riley Draper, the film also spotlights the 17 other black American athletes that were present at the Games, many of whom won medals: Ralph Metcalfe, Mack Robinson (Jackie Robinson's older brother), Tidye Pickett, Louise Stokes and many others.
In an interview with The Root, Draper elaborated on why she wanted to take on the movie, saying:
"I thought this was a rather important story to tell because there is a lot of irony and paradox when you look at the story. So there's the irony and paradox of going over to Germany, Nazi Germany, and actually having almost two weeks of your life totally changed and transformed, and being free to sit in the outside café and being free to have a bus pass and travel all over the city, sit in the front of the bus and do what you want and make friends with men and women from around the world. So I found that very fascinating to have had that experience and then to come back to America, and the freedom that you had in Nazi Germany is gone, poof, in probably the most politically charged situation in the history of the world, and these guys navigated that."
It's incredible to think about when placed into context: at the height of segregation in America (and, three years later, the beginning of World War II) these black athletes represented a country that looked at them as inferior and received better treatment overseas (although Hitler obviously had his prejudices for black people), only to have to return to America where they were still treated the same way after accomplishing what they did.
Olympic Pride has already been screened at several film festivals, but the movie will open for theatrical release on August 5 in New York City and Santa Monica, California.
Check out the movie's website here, and a trailer for it below.