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The Hilltop


1936 Olympic Trailblazers Finally Receive Recognition

By Brittany Webb, Sports Editor
Posted 9:10 PM EST, Sat., Oct. 8, 2016
Updated 8:55 AM EST, Thurs. Oct. 13, 2016

Note: The author of this story is the corrected byline, as opposed to the The Hilltop’s print issue #7 from October 6, 2016.

On Thursday, September 29, Coffee Bluff Pictures, Procter & Gamble and the U.S. Olympic Committee hosted the families of 1936 African-American Olympians to the district for special recognition and a special film screening.

More than 200 guests attended the ceremony at the National Portrait Gallery, to recognize the 18 African-American athletes from the 1936 Berlin Olympics for the first time. The Olympians broke racial barriers within the world of sports, but their accomplishments have not been praised publicly. One of the attendees of the ceremony was Olympic Gold Medalist Allyson Felix.

The documentary shown at the film was “Olympic Pride, American Prejudice,” which was directed by Deborah Riley Draper. The movie follows the experience of the 18 Olympians who fought against the Jim Crow laws and Adolf Hitler to obtain Olympic medals. The Olympians were representing a country where they were not considered equals. They were competing in the lands of one of the world’s most infamous dictators.

Dr. Dexter Blackman, Loyola Marymount University assistant professor of African-American history and U.S. sports history, said, “It was the opportunity on the world stage to disprove White supremacy.”

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The goal of Thursday’s event was to celebrate the athletes, who fought for civil rights and integration in the sports world. The 18 Olympians consisted of 16 men and two women.

Out of the 18, the only Olympian recognized was Jesse Owens. Owens was a track-and-field Olympian who won four gold medals in the 1936 Olympics. He held the world record for the long jump for 25 years. His record was 8.13 meters.

This year marked the 80th anniversary of the 1936 Olympics.

In an interview with CNN, Draper said, “The story, what’s remarkable about it is in America they didn’t have their rights but they represented America proudly and gracefully.”

The documentary is available for purchase on Amazon. Nationwide screenings can be tracked on the film’s website at


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