Jesse Owens

As Usain Bolt wins in Berlin, ‘the fastest man planet Earth has seen‘, we recall Jesse Owens’ triumphs in 1936.

It was before my time, but I’ve grown up with Jesse Owens being referred to regularly in conversation.

Wikipedia (inter alia) reports that Owens was not insulted by Hitler. Hitler was privately annoyed that he was doing so well, but he was not rude to him in public. Owens got no acknowledgement from the US President, however

He also stated: [12] “Hitler didn’t snub me—it was FDR who snubbed me. The president didn’t even send me a telegram.” Jesse Owens was never invited to the White House nor bestowed any honors by Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) or Harry S. Truman during their terms. In 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower acknowledged Owens’ accomplishments, naming him an “Ambassador of Sports.”

Despite Hitler’s feelings, Owens was cheered enthusiastically by 110,000 people in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium and later ordinary Germans sought his autograph when they saw him in the streets. Owens was allowed to travel with and stay in the same hotels as whites, an irony at the time given that blacks in the United States were denied equal rights. After a New York ticker-tape parade in his honor, Owens had to ride the freight elevator to attend his own reception at the Waldorf-Astoria.[7]

Hitler apparently told Speer that those whose antecedents came from the jungle were primitive and had a better physique, and they ought to be excluded from future games.

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