Writer, Director and Producer Deborah Riley Draper along with Executive Producer Blair Underwood recently held a New York screening of Olympic Pride – American Prejudice. Draper has done it again with her second feature film documentary!
Draper’s previous film Versailles 73′ was an awarding winning film covering African Americans in the fashion industry in the 70’s. Olympic Pride – American Prejudice takes us back in time to the 1936 Olympics that is taking place in Berlin, Germany where racism and prejudice is at all time high at the helm of Adolf Hitler.
18 African American athletes (16 men and 2 women) Jesse Owens, Ralph Metcalfe, Mack Robinson, Cornelius Johnson, James LuValle, John Woodruff, Archie Williams, Fritz Pollard, John Brooks, Jack Wilson, Art Oliver, David Albritton, Willis Johnson, John Terry, Howard King, James Clark Atkins, Tidye Pickett and Louise Stokes, embarked upon a journey and an opportunity of a lifetime to participate in the Olympics in a very racially charged country. They were discouraged not to go because of the indifferences but was pleasantly surprised about the warm welcome that they received from the Germans who were instructed to treat them kindly. Though Hitler had ulterior motives behind allowing them into the country. He felt that the White race was dominant and that the Blacks were inferior and that he would prove a point that they would not excel in the games. To his dismay, a few of the Black Olympians came home with a total of 8 gold medals, which displeased Hitler.
This documentary takes us through the hopes, dreams and aspirations of these African American athletes. They all banned together and encouraged each other along the way. A few of them were disappointed when at the last minute they were told that they would not be participating in the games after coming all the way from the states. Unfortunately upon their return to the states they were not welcomed back with the pageantry and accolades that are usually bestowed on athletes that have participated in such a prestigious event as the Olympics. A handful was able to create a successful career path, but most of them could not find decent jobs after their Olympic celebrity had faded. The quick reality check of the race relations back in the states smacked them in the face.
The film was followed up by a Q&A with the Director Deborah Riley Draper and a reception with the film’s Narrator and Executive Producer Blair Underwood at Craft Private Dining. Other Executive Producers for the project was also Deborah Riley Draper, her husband, Michael Draper and Amy Tiemann. This film is part of history that so many of us do not know about these unsung heroes and the racism that they faced in athleticism. I highly recommend going to see this film. The documentary debuted this summer, but you can now find it on Amazon.com. Definitely support this film and I can’t wait to see what Deborah Riley Draper comes up with next as her star continues to rise.
PHOTOS: DH Style