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Olympic Pride, American Prejudice             cover image

Olympic Pride, American Prejudice 2016

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Tugg, Inc., 855-321-8844

Directed by Deborah Riley Draper
DVD , color, 90 min.

High School - General Adult
African Americans, Athletes, Race Relations

Date Entered: 01/17/2017

Reviewed by LaRoi Lawton, Library & Learning Resources Department, Bronx Community College of the City University of New York

In 1931, the International Olympic Committee awarded the 1936 Summer Olympics to Berlin. The choice signaled Germany's return to the world community after its isolation in the aftermath of defeat in World War I. Two years later, Nazi party leader Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany and quickly turned the nation's fragile democracy into a one-party dictatorship that persecuted Jews, Roma (Gypsies), all political opponents, and others. The Nazi claim to control all aspects of German life also extended to sports. German sports pictures of the 1930s served to promote the ideal of “Aryan” racial superiority and physical prowess.

Olympic Pride, American Prejudice takes an in-depth look at the experiences of 18 African American Olympians who represented the United States during a time in American history that considered them less than equal and Nazism, to compete in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.

From an historical point, the viewer may experience and hopefully understand the complexities encountered by these African American Olympians set against the tense and raging atmosphere of a racially divided America, which was torn between boycotting Hitler’s Olympics or participating in the Third Reich’s imposing affair. This documentary follows these men and women of color before, during and after their heroic turn at the Summer Olympic Games in Berlin. They represented a country that considered them second class citizens and competed in a country that rolled out the red carpet for them despite an undercurrent of Aryan superiority and anti-Semitism.

They were world heroes yet returned home to a short-lived glory. This story is complicated, triumphant but unheralded. It is a vital part of our history and is as relevant today as it was almost 81 years ago. Because this particular world Olympics was well-documented this film uses a wealth of newsreel material, newspaper articles, photographs, personal interviews and never-before-seen footage. There are both primary and secondary resources from the personal archival collections of Olympians and organizations in both the U.S. and Germany that have been used in this film which should prove fascinating to any viewer interested in the continued debate on race from a global perspective.