Apr. 24, 2012 at 8:32pmThe Jesse Owens Story

We’ve probably all seen video clips of Jesse Owens at the iconic Olympic Stadium in Berlin in 1936. With the backdrop of impending world war, the 22-year-old Owens won four gold medals in the face of Nazi racism.

 

So reading the description of this program I was stunned to read that Hitler and other German leaders had hurled insults at Owens and the other black teammates on the Olympic squad. I guess I hadn’t realized how obvious and out there the racism was.

This program begins its story in the Cleveland neighborhood where Owens grew up – the grandson of a sharecropper. It details his early career, describes Hitler’s flamboyant and outsized goals for the 1936 Olympics and “describes the movement in Western democracies to boycott the event.”

At the time in America racism was deeply entrenched and the civil rights movement was decades away. But the pressure on Owens to attend was apparently great and despite his success there he struggled to find a place for himself back in the U.S. after the event.

You can watch the program online here: http://video.ksps.org/video/2229413590

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