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Jesse Owens' 1936 Olympic Gold Medal up for Auction

Medal of the star athlete who defied Nazi's 'Aryan superiority' at the Berlin Games will be sold at auction for at least $170,000

By: Zak Edwards
Published: December 2nd, 2013 in News » World
Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympic Games

Adolf Hitler was excited for the 1936 Olympic Games that were held in Berlin, using the international sporting event to display Germany’s athletic prowess, and the notion of “Aryan supremacy.” Africans, and people of African descent, were a particular focus of the Nazi Party, but an American track and field star fought back, by winning.

Jesse Owens won four gold medals that year in various events, beating Germans and other white Americans in his bid for first place. The Cleveland-born star travelled to the Olympic games, facing segregation and prejudice that he was already familiar with in his native United States, and overcame everyone’s expectations. Those medals became a symbol, not only against Nazi Germany’s racism, but the oppression and prejudice the African-American community faced back home.

President Jimmy Carter said of Owens that “perhaps no athlete better symbolized the human struggle against tyranny, poverty and racial bigotry.”

The president at the time of his victory, however, refused to even meet the star upon his return home from Germany.

Now one of those medals is currently at auction with other sports memorabilia, according to The Globe and Mail, and has reportedly been bid at over $170 000. This medal specifically comes from the estate of Bill Robinson, a contemporary of Owens who faced similar prejudice and persecution in his career as a tap dancer and actor.

According to the lot detail, Owens gave the medal to Robinson “as a token of gratitude and friendship, as documented in the biography Mr. Bojangles by author N.R. Mitgang.”

Related articles: Jesse Owens, Nazi, Hitler, Jewish News, Olympics, Aryan, Berlin Games, Auction
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