At a time when Hitler wanted to prove to the world the superiority of the Aryan race, one man shattered the entire evolutionary-eugenics-master race theory. God placed Jesse Owens at just the right place, at just the right time to show the world the ignorance and racism of the Progressive ideology of eugenics and white supremacy.
Owens almost did not make history at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. While qualifying for the long jump, Owens fouled his first two attempts. He only had one shot left to qualify for competition. While trying to figure out how he was going to tackle his final trial run, fellow competitor Luz Long approached him.
“You’re jumping too soon,” Long said in a thick accent. “Put your jump line back a little.” Owens followed Long’s suggestion and easily qualified for the Olympic competition. Long was Owens’ only real competition so his counsel was especially treasured.
Later that afternoon, Owens went on to win the gold in long jump with Long taking the silver. Long was the first to congratulate Owens on his win. As Long was German, it infuriated the Furor to have one of his perfect blond haired, blue-eyed athletes supporting an imperfect, inferior African-American. As Owens would later recall, “It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me in front of Hitler. You can melt down all the medals and cups I have and they wouldn’t be a plating on the 24-karat friendship I felt for Luz Long at that moment. Hitler must have gone crazy watching us embrace.”
On the first day of the Olympics, Hitler received several winners. After realizing Hitler was picking and choosing those he wished to congratulate, Olympic officials informed him he needed to receive all winners or none. Hitler chose to not receive any.
Hitler left the events on the second day before the track ceremonies, which many saw as a snub towards Owens and other black winners.
Even though Nazi newspapers characterized African-American athletes as “black auxiliaries”, that was not the knife that cut through Owens’ heart. Owens pointed out, “Hitler didn’t snub me—it was FDR who snubbed me. The president didn’t even send me a telegram.”
Owens explained, “When I came back to my native country, after all the stories about Hitler, I couldn’t ride in the front of the bus. I had to go to the back door. I couldn’t live where I wanted. I wasn’t invited to shake hands with Hitler, but I wasn’t invited to the White House to shake hands with the President, either.”
Registered Republican Owens campaigned for Roosevelt’s rival at Republican rallies upon his return to the states. Seeing the same Nazi racism in the Progressive Democrat Party, he encouraged blacks to vote for the party that freed the slaves and fought for the rights of blacks.
While we are all disgusted by what Hitler did towards non-Aryans, we are not surprised. What many don’t know is Hitler did not conjure up his beliefs of white supremacy on his own. Hitler learned his extreme radical and bigoted racism from famous eugenicists such as George Bernard Shaw, Margaret Sanger, Democrat Woodrow Wilson, and yes, Democrat President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was following the lead of American Progressives who used eugenics as the basis for forced sterilization, segregation of undesirables, and gave birth to Planned Parenthood.
Owens handled all of the discrimination with class and humility. Despite the prejudice he received, it was people like Long that showed the world not everyone feels that way. Thousands of spectators showered Owens with love and admiration during the games. He was swarmed by girls of all nationalities wanting his autograph. When leaving the Olympic village at any time, he had to be escorted so as not to be mobbed by adoring fans.
Owens and Long remained pen pals until Long’s death. Before being deployed to Italy in 1943, Long wrote, “My heart is telling me that this is perhaps the last letter of my life. If that is so, I beg one thing from you. When the war is over, please go to Germany, find my son and tell him about his father. Tell him about the times when war did not separate us and tell him that things can be different between men in this world. Your brother, Luz.”
Long’s premonition was correct. He died during World War II. Owens fulfilled his dear friend’s last request. He met Kai Long in 1951 and the two families remain close friends to this day. The camaraderie of these athletes is the spirit of the Olympics. While Hitler’s prejudice died with him, Owens’ and Long’s friendship continues to their 2nd and 3rd generations.
May we seek out such examples of sportsmanship as we enjoy this year’s Olympic games. While we should have pride for our country’s athletes, at the end of the day, we need to remember we are all in this world together. Things can be different between men in this world.
But that’s just my 2 cents.