By John Rago, City of Wilmington
Wilmington City Council Member Darius Brown (D-3rd District) announced today that he’ll host a screening of the film “Race” at 10 a.m. on Saturday, February 27 at Penn Cinema IMAX Theater on the Wilmington Riverfront. A limited number of FREE tickets are available for the event on a first come, first served basis by calling the City Council office at (302) 576-2140.
“Race” is the first film biography about African American athlete Jesse Owens, who won a record-breaking four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. The movie, which stars Stephan James as Jesse Owens, was filmed in Montreal and at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin which is the venue where Owens won his Olympic gold medals in a repudiation of Adolf Hitler’s vision of Aryan supremacy.
“This film tells a wonderful story about the human spirit and individual determination and teaches us about a man who overcame tremendous odds and obstacles to achieve what few have in their lives,” said Council Member Brown. “This is the type of story we need to tell over and over again and it’s the type of story that people of all ages and races should know about and appreciate. I am pleased to present this film and I extend my thanks to Penn Ketchum, owner of Penn Cinema, for making the theater available for this community showing.”
“Race,” which opened nationally on September 19, is supported by the Owens family, the Jesse Owens Foundation and the Jesse Owens Trust.
The following information is from the Jesse Owens website, http://www.jesseowens.com:
Jesse Owens, who was the son of a sharecropper and grandson of a slave, is the best remembered athlete in Olympic history. He was the seventh child of Henry and Emma Alexander Owens and was born in Alabama on September 12, 1913. “J.C.”, as he was called, was nine when the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where his new schoolteacher gave him the name that was to become known around the world. The teacher was told “J.C.” when she asked his name to enter in her roll book, but she thought he said “Jesse”. The name stuck and he would be known as Jesse Owens for the rest of his life.
Jesse gave the world a preview of things to come in Berlin, while at the Big Ten Championships in Ann Arbor on May 25, 1935, he set three world records and tied a fourth, all in a span of about 45 minutes. Jesse was uncertain as to whether he would be able to participate at all, as he was suffering from a sore back as a result from a fall down a flight of stairs. He convinced his coach to allow him to run the 100-yard dash as a test for his back, and amazingly Jesse recorded an official time of 9.4 seconds, once again tying the world record. Despite the pain, he then went on to participate in three other events, setting a world record in each event. In a span of 45 minutes, Jesse accomplished what many experts still feel is the greatest athletic feat in history…setting 3 world records and tying a fourth in four grueling track and field events.
His success at the 1935 Big Ten Championships gave him the confidence that he was ready to excel at the highest level. Jesse entered the 1936 Olympics, which were held in Nazi Germany amidst the belief by Hitler that the Games would support his belief that the German “Aryan” people were the dominant race. Jesse had different plans, as he became the first American track and field athlete to win four gold medals in a single Olympiad. This remarkable achievement stood unequaled until the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, when American Carl Lewis matched Jesse’s feat. Although others have gone on to win more gold medals than Jesse, he remains the best remembered Olympic athlete because he achieved what no Olympian before or since has accomplished. During a time of deep-rooted segregation, he not only discredited Hitler’s master race theory, but also affirmed that individual excellence, rather than race or national origin, distinguishes one person from another.