tv Cityline ABC February 21, 2016 12:00pm-12:30pm EST
karen: the legacy of jesse owens comes to the big screen. a look of the intersection of sports and politics. good afternoon. welcome to "cityline." later why the field of sports , becomes a proving ground for political causes. first, the movie "race" opened this weekend. it is based on the true story of james owens, known to us as jesse. and his ascendance from track
the world stage at the olympics in nazi germany. a few weeks ago, i had a chance to sit down with stephan james, who plays owens. >> in 1936 nazi germany, one event would set the stage for the greatest feat of athleticism mankind had ever witnessed and one of the greatest displays of courage the world would ever see. the ninth of 10 children, jesse owens loved to run. it was this drive that led him to compete at ohio state. despite having to endure racial
the great equalizer. >> there is only fast and slow. >> he would set records during his college career and become the hope for the 1936 games. >> you want to win a gold medal? >> nothing can stop you. >> for adolf hitler, it showed the decimal the chance to show the world the superiority of the aryan race. >> get to berlin and beat those nazis. >> this is our shot. >> we get some payback in their house. >> jesse won four gold medals in berlin. his greatest achievement was paving the way for black athletes and the black community as a whole.
american hero. karen: what drew you to this role of jesse owens? >> any time you get a call about playing somebody who is the fastest man on the planet, someone who is larger than life, i cannot begin to explain how ecstatic i was to have the opportunity presented to me. just the story and its greatness. karen: what did you learn about him? >> so much that i did not know before, so much about that time and era. having his daughters around was helpful for me, to help seal in the gaps. so often, when we hear jesse o once, we think of the superstar, but we do not hear about the type of person he was, the type of father he was in the type of man he was. that is what i try to tap into
to bring a level of humanity to this great hero. >> the olympic trials are coming up soon. >> yes, sir. a little under five weeks. >> no doubt you hope to qualify and take part. on behalf of the negro community across america, i hope you do not go. >> this is the olympic games. he has been training his whole life. >> you are the best. you have a chance to strike a powerful blow. i know it must sound hypocritical for any american to talk about racial bigotry in other countries, but that is the reason we must not go to these games. we have a chance here.
oppressed people of germany. karen: owens did go to the berlin olympics. his presence and winning performance in track and field destroyed hitler' s dream of aryan supremacy. what was it like to walk in his shoes? you shot a few scenes in berlin. there was that moment when you walk into the olympic stadium, where they' ve filmed the 1936 olympics. we see you looking around the stadium. how did you feel personally in that moment? >> i got chills. not only filming the scene, but beforehand, walking up to the stadium for the first time. on the day we were going to be filming that scene. walking in jesse' s footsteps, right up to those gates. i walked into an empty stadium. he walked into the stadium with 150,000 people.
where i was able to make that connection and feel what jesse might have felt like, even if it was a fraction of that. karen: this movie is about the race for the gold, creating a level playing field. i have to ask you the topic of the day. do you have advice for the academy, producers, in terms of green lighting films like this, so we can see more people of color on the screen? >> i do not have advice. when you see a film like "race," like a film we made, it brings so much to light in terms of how we should be living our lives as people. jesse embodies what it means to be color blind, who just did things for the love. >> the true spirit of sportsmanship. >> he has made so many friends and connected with many people.
like him. he was able to connect with the german people, one of his greatest life friends he met in germany at those games. >> the white flag is up. >> owens, it is a new olympic record. >> people see this film, it is a testament why we should look to bring each other together, rather than separating each other. that is what telling stories like this does. karen: owens became the first track and field athlete to win four gold medals in a single olympiad. his record number of wins in a single olympiad stood for 48 years. up next, how and why does sports become a platform in the competition for equal rights and
even though he brought back four gold medals, not only was he snubbed by hitler, he was never publicly acknowledged by a u.s. president. in 1976, he was invited to the white house to be awarded the medal of freedom. living legend award at the white house. in 1990, he was awarded the congressional medal of honor. >> [indiscernible] karen: rebounding in 1936, joe lewis returned to the ring in 1938.
karen: jackie robinson made history less than a decade later brooklyn dodgers. stripped of his heavyweight refusing induction into the in the war. >> you won' t even stand up for me here at home. karen: at the 1956 summer olympics, two were criticized using a black power salute during the ceremony. the st. louis rams entered the stadium with their hands up,
beyonce' s controversy with her performance at the super bowl. critics interpreted it as paying tribute to the black panthers. to speak more on this, we are joined by robert lewis, junior, and with him is daniel lebovitz. i want to "the question, why is -- why does sports become the foundation for promoting a political cause? >> generally, if you look at sports, it is a common denominator. we are divided as we see, race, religious division, political division.
art is another thing that can be put in this category. it is an out to break common denominator. it allows us to have conversations in other arenas. it is the things people are afraid to talk about because we cannot admit there are problems and we want to find solutions for them. we try to put this front about everything as perfect. sport allows us that conversation. karen: it is the entry point because everyone feels comfortable with that. >> these are exceptional athletes. the best in the world. at times, are we surprised and shocked by the greatness of muhammad ali, the williams
when they use their -- for the effort and time they put in, to speak to issues we know are relevant in our communities, some are criticized if they do not. when they do, i think it is a discomfort for america. what ends up happening, so many young folks live in a world of uncertainty. i think at times, america is not ready or sometimes internationally we are not ready. jesse owens put his time in to be exceptional. karen: in what we put together
there are other examples, billy g keane taking on bobby fischer and a female versus male tennis match to prove women should be paid as much as men in professional tennis. through the cold w ar, bobby fischer took on a russian chess player. this is not something just african-americans are involved in. it is sports in general. >> we are looking at one of the greatest presidents of all time. i think you would see him on mount rushmore. he took us out of two wars. the economy is where he wanted to be. he has in gauged people in the conversation of who we are as a people and what collective humanity looks like. the narrative around him has not been created by him. what has been created by him as
america is pretty great in where he has led us if we follow that lead. if you look at demographic changes in our country, the status quo is not going to be the status quo. do we believe in collective humanity and good? if we are so, we have to have the race conversation. karen: tell us about what you do for the center of study for spore and society. >> we engage people in difficult conversations, to look at narratives being written. we generally have people that talk about problems, but are afraid to get approximate to them. we have people that will not
it has been an impeachment to the entire country. we have a country that wants to create narratives around people, that they can create their own narrative. they do not need someone else to create a narrative. we engage people in the veneer around that. how do you use sport to engage in conversation towards betterment, social justice, a world that really does embrace. karen: tell us how your work is promoting social justice. >> a lot of people will say it is just about sports kit we are changing the game. it is about influence. we are funded by the private
what we have done, is we are changing the paradigm. our young black and latino men and women are the next great assets. we have ensured that academics and education is a choice. we have ensured that our young folks get the best training and practice. we won three of the last five united states baseball championships from the inner city. we teaches skills, show them skill sets. while doing that, we have to change the paradigm in those that make decisions. by showing that young folks can, for so many years, we call them at risk, disadvantaged, and not
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karen: welcome back. politics. in the previous segment, we were talking about people who have extraordinary skills, stepping outside of themselves to take a risk, to take a stand. often, some of these people were role. you are close with john carlos. you spoke with him recently. tell us what happened to him following the olympics. >> after winning a gold medal -- winning a medal with tommy as well as winning a medal, he was vilified. he was homeless without work for two years. his wife committed suicide.
he explains it all the time that he loves the country. when he was up on that stand, he was not making a statement about black power or black pride. he was asking a question of why he was an american on that stand but people treated his mother and father so poorly at home. he wanted people to be aware he was a citizen, he was allegiance to a cause. those were not returned to him. the pain he felt after that olympics, it begged the question -- that was 32 years after jesse owens. wire we so far apart on the question of race and why is it we cannot see dignity,
karen: muhammad ali became a superhero after he returned to boxing. everybody worships him today. let' s move to today ' s example. we moved to the st. louis rams and beyonce' s halftime show at the super bowl. your thoughts on that? >> i was inspired. it brought me back to thinking of jim brown. muhammad ali. kareem abdul-jabbar. standing for social issues facing our country. we cannot turn a blind eye that the black lives matter is one of in country. we have to look at athletes and realized that our athletes are citizens and parents and they represent things that matter.
it was one of the greatest shows. i think beyonce turned it up and took a stand for something important. karen: i missed the message until it was pointed out later. >> what i did, right away, i went online to see what comments were. you can tell those who had bigotry or bias and others who thought it was a show of expression. my struggle is when athletes and other leaders aren' t taking stance on issues, we are criticizing them. when they do, we should be celebrating. she presented a discussion. karen: people suggest that people like lebron james or michael jordan should be getting more involved in these political
>> after the trayvon martin, he wore a hood, he has worn shirts, taken off his jersey. there is a separation between those two athletes. michael, he worried more about endorsements. it is not to defame him, he was on a path to his own power. lebron has been an exemplary athlete in terms of not worrying about endorsements and making a statement that he think is timeless. sports figures take on these monumental life issues? >> i hope so. we need to tell more stories about what they are doing
we should not wait until someone scares us. i hope we do. if we wake up and realize it is not sports and politics in this country matters and now we have bigger than themselves, what i t look at issues. stand and rise and for something. years. instead of us looking and saying t vilify them. karen: thank you for being here today. you can learn more about everything we featured on our program by logging on to the "cityline" page at wcvb.com.
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