1936 olympics

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August 3rd 1936: Jesse Owens wins 100 metre dash

On this day in 1936 at the Berlin Olympics, American athlete Jesse Owens won the 100 metre dash, defeating world record holder Ralph Metcalfe. Owens won four gold medals, in the 100 metres, 200 metres, long jump, and 4x100 metre relay, which made him the most successful athlete in the 1936 Games. Germany’s Nazi Chancellor Adolf Hitler had intended to use the Games to showcase Aryan supremacy, thus the success of African-American Owens was particularly poignant. His success made him a famous figure, but back home in America segregation was still in place. After a ticker-tape parade for him in New York, he had to ride a separate elevator to reach a reception in his honour. It was often said that Hitler snubbed Owens at the Games, refusing to shake his hand, but whilst the racist Hitler was certainly displeased by Owens’s success, these stories may have been exaggerated. In fact, Owens maintains that it was US President Franklin D. Roosevelt who snubbed him, neglecting to congratulate the athlete for his success. Jesse Owens died in 1980 aged 66.

“A lifetime of training for just ten seconds
- Jesse Owens

People today don’t even know who Jesse Owens was. They don’t have no idea what happened in 1936 [at the Olympics in Berlin]. That’s what’s scary, because our history is being lost. The world should recognize how Owens transcended race. His life was so remarkable. And he came up during the time of no drugs, no steroids, none of that, yet his record [winning four gold medals in track and field in a single Olympics] stood all the way till Carl Lewis [who matched the performance at the 1984 Games]. He really put the U.S. in the forefront of the world for taking down the German empire. It’s funny, because when he got back to the United States after winning those four gold medals, there was a ticker-tape parade to the Waldorf-Astoria—and would you believe, they wouldn’t let him in the front door? He had to go in the service elevator. It’s very epic, very beautiful to play him and introduce him to a new generation.
— 

Anthony Mackie, in an interview with Interview Magazine

The rest of the interview focuses more on Mackie’s role as Tupac Shakur in the upcoming Notorious, but his comments on Jesse Owens are spot-on. You can learn more about Owens and why he’s so important at the website run by the Jesse Owens Trust.

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Fackelträgersäule (the Olympic Torchbearer column) by Hermann Scheuernstuhl, in the Maschsee. Poised on a sphere, the figure maintains the N.S. salute whilst holding the Olympic flame carried to the Games, from Olympia, for the first time in 1936. At the bottom of the column you can see the Reichsadler (without the Swastika) and an inscription that dedicates the lake resort to the leisure and recreation of the German worker:

Wille zum Aufbau
gab werkfrohen Händen
den Segen der Arbeit.
Freude, Gesundheit und Kraft
spende fortan euch der See

– Maschsee, Hannover. Juni 2014.

Spectators in the Olympiastadion during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. By Heinrich Hoffmann.

Source.

an epic photo of the 1936 Olympics - and undeniably one of the greatest American moments in Olympic history (as according to Buzzfeed) “With the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, Hitler hoped that Aryan supremacy would be on display for the world to see. Jesse Owens had other plans. Owens won four gold medals at the ‘36 games and returned to America a national hero."