Skip to Main Content

Olympic Pride, American Prejudice

The Untold Story of 18 African Americans Who Defied Jim Crow and Adolf Hitler to Compete in the 1936 Berlin Olympics

Read by Leon Nixon

Discover the astonishing, inspirational, and largely unknown true story of the eighteen African American athletes who competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, defying the racism of both Nazi Germany and the Jim Crow South.

Set against the turbulent backdrop of a segregated United States, sixteen black men and two black women are torn between boycotting the Olympic Games in Nazi Germany or participating. If they go, they would represent a country that considered them second-class citizens and would compete amid a strong undercurrent of Aryan superiority that considered them inferior. Yet, if they stayed, would they ever have a chance to prove them wrong on a global stage? To be better than anyone ever expected?

Five athletes, full of discipline and heart, guide readers through this harrowing and inspiring journey. There’s a young and sometimes feisty Tidye Pickett from Chicago, whose lithe speed makes her the first African American woman to compete in the Olympic Games; a quiet Louise Stokes from Malden, Massachusetts, who breaks records across the Northeast with humble beginnings training on railroad tracks. We find Mack Robinson in Pasadena, California, setting an example for his younger brother, Jackie Robinson; and the unlikely competitor Archie Williams, a lanky book-smart teen in Oakland takes home a gold medal. Then there’s Ralph Metcalfe, born in Atlanta and raised in Chicago, who becomes the wise and fierce big brother of the group. Drawing on over five years of research, Draper and Thrasher bring to life a timely story of perseverance and the will to beat unsurmountable odds.

From burning crosses set on the Robinsons’s lawn to a Pennsylvania small town on fire with praise and parades when the athletes return from Berlin, Olympic Pride, American Prejudice is full of emotion, grit, political upheaval, and the American dream. Capturing a powerful and untold chapter of history, the narrative is also a celebration of the courage, commitment, and accomplishments of these talented athletes and their impact on race, sports and inclusion around the world.

Deborah Riley Draper is an award-winning director and writer known for the films Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution and 2017 NAACP Image Award nominee Olympic Pride, American Prejudice. In 2016, Variety named her one of 10 Documakers to Watch. In 2019, Draper penned the screen adaptation for the upcoming film Coffee Will Make You Black.

Photo Credit:

Two-time Golden Globe nominee and Emmy, Grammy, and seven-time NAACP Image Award recipient Blair Underwood has distinguished himself as an award-winning actor, director, and producer. He has starred in Sex in the CitySelf Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker, and Disney Channel’s The Lion Guard. He lives in Los Angeles, California. Follow him on Twitter at @BlairUnderwood.

Photograph courtesy of the author

Bestselling author Travis Thrasher has written over fifty books and worked in the publishing industry for more than twenty years. His inspirational stories have included collaborations with filmmakers, musicians, athletes, and pastors. He has written fiction in a variety of genres, from love stories and supernatural thrillers to young adult series. He also has cowritten memoirs and self-help books.

"Leon Nixon brings gravitas to his narration of this historic look at what African-American athletes endured in the 1930s. His steady pace, deep pitch, solid enunciation, and just the right touch of drama blanket the audiobook. Black athletes had to deal with discrimination on home soil at a time when Adolf Hitler was rising to power on a platform of intolerance and racial superiority. The stories focusing on several individuals are interspersed with a narrative on Nazi Germany's preparations to host the 1936 Summer Olympics. Nixon never imitates anyone--he just lets the words, history, and emotions speak for themselves."

– AudioFile Magazine

More books from this reader: Leon Nixon