The 'Black Auxiliaries' in American Memories: Sport, Race and Politics in the Construction of Modern Legacies

John Gleaves, Mark Dyreson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

At the 1936 Olympics a contingent of African American track and field athletes garnered eight gold, three silver, and two bronze medals to highlight an otherwise disappointing performance by the American team. Dubbed the 'black auxiliaries' by the German press, they were led by the luminous Jesse Owens who through his four-gold medal performance built an enduring global legacy as an Olympic icon. Lost in Owens' long shadow were the other 'black auxiliaries', David Albritton, James LuValle, Ralph Metcalfe, Fritz Pollard, Jr., Mack Robinson, Archie Williams, and John Woodruff. Owens' teammates, however, slowly built their own legacies at the local, regional, and national levels. In many respects they excelled Owens in their post-athletic careers, personifying the admonitions of African American leaders in that era. The ways in which this less famous group of Olympians were forgotten and then remembered illuminates the changing complexities of American relations during the twentieth century.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2893-2924
Number of pages32
JournalInternational Journal of the History of Sport
Volume27
Issue number16-18
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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