Although I wasn’t invited to shake hands with Hitler, I wasn’t invited to the White House to shake hands with the President either.

–Jesse Owens.

It is widely believed that Adolf Hitler was using the Summer Olympics of 1936 in Berlin as an excuse to show the world a resurgent and victorious Nazi Germany. He and other government officials had high hopes German athletes would dominate the games with victories and accolades. Meanwhile, Nazi propaganda promoted concepts of “Aryan racial superiority” and depicted ethnic Africans as inferior. Jesse Owens from the United States entered the competition and surprised many by winning four gold medals, one each in the 100 meters, the 200 meters, the long jump, and as part of the 4×100 meter relay team. Albert Speer wrote that Hitler “was highly annoyed by the series of triumphs by the marvellous coloured American runner, Jesse Owens. People whose antecedents came from the jungle were primitive, Hitler said with a shrug; their physiques were stronger than those of civilised whites and hence should be excluded from future games.” Owen’s victory came as a surprise and actually debunked the Aryan myth that ethnic Africans were inferior in any way.