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.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)