The 1936 Olympics were well-documented and known for the success of track and field gold medalist Jesse Owens.
A new documentary titled Olympic Pride, American Prejudice shares the experiences of the other 17 African-American athletes “who defied Jim Crow and Adolf Hitler to win hearts and medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.”
The film’s writer and director Deborah Riley Draper spoke with Roland Martin during Tuesday’s edition of NewsOne Now about the documentary, which reflects on the 80th anniversary of the Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany.
Draper said in 1936, 18 Black athletes braved Jim Crow and Aryan supremacy to “lay down the groundwork for the integration of sports as we know it.”
She added it was important to tell the full and holistic story that there was more than one Black American leading this movement. Within this group of pioneering African-American athletes were two women, Tidye Pickett and Louise Stokes.
When asked what made the stories of the 17 trailblazing African-Americans so interesting, Draper said, “The fact that their stories faded into obscurity and they did something so seminal and so important was really a seminal moment for us to understand our own history and our own contributions to sports and the struggle for equality.”
Draper continued, “When you look at the list of the people who were part of this 17 that disappeared, you’re talking about Archie Williams who became a Tuskegee Airman, you’re talking about Dr. James LuValle, who a building at UCLA is named for.
“Before they even set foot on the track in Berlin, they had already made history. They’re the first African-Americans ever to face both Jim Crow and to compete in sports,” Draper said.
Watch Roland Martin and Deborah Riley Draper discuss the new documentary Olympic Pride, American Prejudice above.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty