Directed by Laurens Grant and written and produced by Stanley Nelson, their documentary film about the legendary Olympic athlete Jesse Owens will make its televsion premiere on May 1st on PBS’s American history documentary series American Experience
Owens, who become a worldwide overnight celebrity at his triumph winning several Gold medals at the Nazi Berlin Olympics in 1936, was a much more complex and deeper person that people would like to imagine and the film goes further to examine his life after all the hoopla had died down.
Owens was faced with the stark reality that he just just a black man in America trying to survive. Even on his first night back in the U.S., Owens and his wife couldn’t find lodging in New York until one hotel agreed to rent them a room if they used the service entrence (And mind you that was New York not the Deep South) And keep in mind, there sure weren’t any product endorsements for black athletes back during that time.
As the makers of the film say, Owen’s personal story is “about the elusive, fleeting quality of fame and the way Americans idolize athletes when they suit our purpose and forget them once they don’t”