News / Arts & Entertainment

    ‘Race’ Chronicles Triumph, Struggles of Track Star Jesse Owens in Segregated America

    Film ‘Race’ Recounts Jesse Owens' Olympic Track Victories Amidst Racial Segregationi
    X
    February 18, 2016 8:08 PM
    When U.S. track star Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, it dented Adolph Hitler's notion of Nazi superiority. But after his triumphant wins, he came home to an America still deeply divided between black and white. The film drama, “Race,” by Stephen Hopkins, chronicles the Olympics, using the Great Depression as the backdrop to Owens' coming of age story as a star athlete, living with racism at home. VOA's Penelope Poulou has more.

    Related Articles

    US Congressional Gold Medal Program Has Long History

    Members of Congress have bestowed the honor on hundreds of individuals over the years
    Penelope Poulou

    When U.S. track star Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, it damaged Adolph Hitler's propaganda on Aryan supremacy. Yet, despite his triumphant wins, Owens went home to an America still deeply divided between black and white.

    The film drama “Race,” by Stephen Hopkins, chronicles the Olympics, using the Great Depression as the backdrop to Owens' coming of age story as a star athlete, living with racism at home. 

    The youngest of 10 children, Owens realized that running fast and winning transcended race.

    FILE - Jesse Owens, center, salutes during the presentation of his gold medal for the long jump, after defeating Nazi Germany's Lutz Long, right, during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.FILE - Jesse Owens, center, salutes during the presentation of his gold medal for the long jump, after defeating Nazi Germany's Lutz Long, right, during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.
    x
    FILE - Jesse Owens, center, salutes during the presentation of his gold medal for the long jump, after defeating Nazi Germany's Lutz Long, right, during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.
    FILE - Jesse Owens, center, salutes during the presentation of his gold medal for the long jump, after defeating Nazi Germany's Lutz Long, right, during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.

    Leaving his family behind with a promise for a better life, he enrolled at Ohio State as a track athlete. Coach Larry Snyder recognized his potential and trained him for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. 

    Decision to compete

    The film follows Owens' training, as he shattered world records and as the U.S. Olympic committee wrangled over whether to participate in the Olympics under Hitler’s reign. Meanwhile, members of the African-American community urged Owens to boycott the event they considered to be a Nazi charade.

    Despite the mounting pressures, Owens competed. His four Olympic gold medals deflated Hitler's Olympic ambitions and paved the way for other black athletes.

    Hard journey home

    However, Owens returned to a segregated America not as an Olympic hero, but as just another black man.

    Stephan James, who portrays Owens in the film, said Race celebrates the athlete and what he achieved, despite the odds.

    "A film like Race really shows why it doesn't matter what you look like or where you come from,” James said. “All that really matters is individual greatness."

    The actor acknowledged that the U.S. has come a long way since 1936, but said there is still much more to be done.

    "I think this film shows not only how far we've come since those times, but also why we can't afford to go backward,” he said. “We can't afford to take any steps backward. There are people like Jesse Owens, like a John Lewis, like a Dr. King, who have done so much so that we don't have to go through some of the same sort of things for sure."

    Current controversy

    Congressman John Lewis agreed.

    After the Oscar nominations for acting were announced, Lewis addressed the controversy about the lack of diversity in Hollywood.

    "We must continue to go forward. There may be some setbacks and some disappointments, but we must never, ever give up," he said. "We must continue to work and we will get there.

    “And in the entertainment industry, we'll wake up and start including all of us. It doesn't make any difference whether we are African-American, whether we are white, Latino, Asian-American, or Native American. The industry must see us coming together as one people, one family."

    As for Hollywood, it will continue this conversation on the night of the Oscars and beyond.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Xaaji Dhagax
    February 20, 2016 3:28 AM
    Every corner around the world, from Middle East to Europe, to Asia, China to North and South America, Africa descents are the only victim of racial inequality, racism, discrimination and race inspired violence. America took more than 60 years just to recognize Jesse Owens' accomplishment.
    In Response

    by: O. J. Ray from: NY
    February 21, 2016 11:43 PM
    Xaaji, do not forget America elected black president for two terms.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    New in Music Alley

    Take It From The Top: Stanley Jordani
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    May 17, 2016 5:01 PM
    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously. He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.

    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously.  He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.

     

     

     

     

    Blogs

    African Music Treasures