Wednesday, February 24, 2016

"Olympic Pride, American Prejudice" documentary includes Archie Williams.

My ab-fab foundations of algebra teacher, the late, great Archie Williams was a real Olympic champion. Archie won the 400-meter race. I got to hold his Olympic gold medal. I sucked at math, but Archie was the kindest, gentlest mentor I ever had. Not his fault that math didn't take. Oh, but the stories he told us, of winning the Olympics, of running with Jesse Owens, and meeting Hitler.

At 13, we hardly knew who Hitler was, but we held that same gold medal that Hitler bequeathed to Archie. Archie was a a man who broke world records, and race barriers.

He was a pioneer on several counts, not just the Olympics. After he injured his leg, he reinvented himself and became one of the first African American fighter pilots, and flight instructor, an engineer, and a computer teacher, when computers were young.

He was one of the few teachers that cared about each of us, it was not just about learning math, or passing the class. I learned to collect multitudes of stories from him. I probably failed math miserably but a much larger life lesson was the answer to the equation.

My friend Ken Bullock wrote: "Archie was a very special guy. He was a family friend, and frequently played golf with my dad. His son, Archie Junior was a good friend of mine as well. Archie was on the podium with Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympics, but he had only one gold medal to Jesse's 3, so Jesse got most of the press. Archie wasn't one to feel slighted though. He became a flight instructor, and taught the famous "Red Tails", the Tuskegee Airmen to fly in combat. He was, what almost every student in Drake High School would say, the best teacher and person ever! "

"Olympic Pride, American Prejudice," a documentary set to premiere later this year including Archie Williams.

"Jesse Owens Was Brave. So Were These 17 Other Black Olympians.
Their stories are rarely told.

People often remember the 1936 Olympics in Berlin for track and field legend Jesse Owens taking home four gold medals, essentially triumphing over Adolf Hitler’s hateful ideologies in his own backyard. At the time, Americans considered Owens to be representative of how the mighty U.S.A. was superior to Hitler and Germany.
But Owens was just one of 18 black athletes on the U.S. Olympic team brave enough to attend the games in Nazi Germany. This summer marks the 80th anniversary of those games, and the athletes’ accomplishments are perhaps even more significant all these years later.
"—read the full story and photos  at Huff Post

"Archie Williams went on to become a Tuskegee airman. He was a trained pilot while he was at [the University of California, Berkeley] and he was a mechanical engineering major so he became a Tuskegee airman.

"According to Williams, despite the Nazi racial policies already in effect in Germany in 1936, he and the other African-American athletes were treated very well by ordinary Germans. In fact, they were treated better than they were used to in the United States. As Williams noted, in Germany, "none of us had to ride in the back of the bus." He was, however, well aware of Adolf Hitler's antipathy for blacks and Jews, and found it a bit disturbing when he had what the called the "dubious honor" of standing less than 50 feet from Hitler during the Opening Ceremonies." SB Nation

See more photos of Archie here.

part of my memory was written 3/25/15, but  I never did anything with it.
RIP Harry Roche
Segregation Games (Archie Williams)

No comments: