As we prepare for the memorable moments of the 2012 Olympics, let’s take another look at this one, when a black American competed in Hitler’s Berlin and, as the world watched, he put the lie to Hitler’s claims about Aryan superiority. He won four gold medals. He then came home to an America still 20 years away from meaningful progress on civil rights. His life was not easy. He had to take the freight elevator to the reception honoring him. He was not invited to the White House to celebrate his achievements.
I was privileged to meet the great Jesse Owens many years ago in Chicago. I will always remember his graciousness and how thrilling it was to shake hands with a legend.