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Tanner McKean

05/01/2016
ePortfolio Civic Engagement Final Assignment

The civic engagement activity I attended was a screening from South Jordan City
Library about Jesse Owens and his participation/representation at the 1936 World
Olympics in Nazi Germany. I found it surprisingly difficult to find anything that would
get me involved with my community. Luckily my local library was able to assist me
in that matter with allowing me to view the Documentary. The Documentary is
entitled "Jesse Owens American Experience by Laurens Grant." I was unaware that
there was a world Olympics being held in Nazi Germany but the Documentary
focused on several points that I was quite happy about. Some key points I noticed
were not only about Jesse Owens but also how the Jewish people were portrayed in
society and Propaganda both in the United States and Germany and how those
forms affected the morale of the people. The Run time of the film is just over 60
minutes but I was able to obtain more information than I thought I would from a
simple documentary.
Jesse Owens was a young African American track superstar. He was able to
set the world record in several events including: The Long Jump, 100 Meter dash,
and 300-meter dash. He grew up in Ohio and was on the Ohio State University
track team. He took his passion very seriously and at a time where racism was
much worse than today, it was a struggle for him to compete in many competitions.
He was unable to stay with his team or even eat with them while they were
traveling. But he walked away from the hatred of others by simply saying on several
occasions "It's their problem, not mine." It amazed me that people can go from
turning this amazing man down at a restaurant, to cheering for him during the
Olympics just a short time after.
We were able to see video of the streets of Germany when he first arrived.
Although signs of the Nazi party were plastered all over the streets there was
something missing. Nazi Germany had taken down all of the signs of the
mistreatment of Jews. Hitler knew how powerful visuals could be around the world
and during this time he wanted Germany to appear superior and welcoming. He
ordered everyone to take down any obvious signs that the Jews were being treated
wrongly. They didnt keep this appearance up all through the Olympics though.
Hitler Refused to shake Jesse Owens Hand when he won his Olympic medal for the
United States stating that he "Would never allow a picture to be taken of him
shaking hands with a dirty Negro. This was a shock to Jesse and a headliner in
papers across the U.S.

I originally wanted to view this documentary to understand how unfairly Jesse


and people from African American descent would have been treated. I wanted to
understand more about equality and see how ideas may have changed from the
middle of the 1900s to today. I was shocked to see that even though he had won
four golden medals he was still portrayed poorly in the American papers. Headlines
would show as "Negro won gold medal" rarely portraying his name and recognizing
him for the great athlete that he was. At home he was nothing more than another
Black Skinned man and that was upsetting to him and also shocking to me. While in
Germany he was a hero where the United states was happy to allow him to
participate in winning gold medals for the country but when he got home he
couldnt even use the same bathroom as another white man. I am so happy that
society has come farther and we have a much greater amount of equality between
races. I fear we are doomed to repeat ourselves...
With the Technology boom that we have had, I see much more hatred than I
would expect. Especially recently with the transgender restrooms that have come
up in the news recently. I mentioned how Jesse felt that he couldnt even use the
same bathroom and be treated with respect. I worry that society has forgotten what
we have overcome and how far we have developed. It relates to today in other ways
like the fear/hatred some have for those of the Muslim Belief. This documentary
helped me to open my eyes and understand different forms of hate and
mistreatment that may be overlooked in today's society. We may not have the same
racism or the same mistreatment but it seems like the ball is being passed around. I
feel more inclined to accept those for who they are and what they believe.
I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed this experience. I would have
never reached out of my comfort zone and sat down to watch the documentary.
While I was watching It though I kept have strange comparisons to today and it was
actually an eye opener for me. I want to be more involved with understanding how
society views other cultures and races. I have always been relatively accepting of
others and their beliefs but this just showed me the life of someone who gets
consistently used for his greatness and hated on for just trying to live a normal life. I
dont want to be involved with a culture that discriminates others even a little bit. In
conclusion I felt very involved in the film and will do my best to not let society fall
into that hole we just got out of again. This experience was informative and well
needed!

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