By D. Love
“Everything else is just noise; you have to block it out. People are either gonna love you or hate you.”
The first lesson Jesse Owens received at The Ohio State University was not taught in the classroom, rather in his coach’s office. Jesse was a prominent black athlete from a lower class family in Cleveland, OH. He was the first child to go to college and a teenage father.
This story of Jesse Owens, portrayed by Stephan James, is unlike many “black history” films. It not only showcases the struggle of blacks in the early 1900s but also that of the Jewish during the time of the Holocaust.
Familiar comedy actor, Jason Sudeikis, challenges himself in a role more serious as Jesse’s coach Larry Snyder. He was equipped with wisdom that helped focus Jesse and “perfect” his raw spectacular talent. His support and training pushed Jesse to become the school’s “Buckeye Bullet”.
Jesse’s skill led him overseas to the 1936 Olympics in Germany where he witnessed firsthand the Nazi’s treatment towards blacks and Jews. This inclusive view helps bring understanding across racial lines about the effects of oppression.
Despite competing in areas populated by individuals that hated him, Owens came out on top with his athletic ability. He was able to focus himself and “block out” the surrounding oppositions in his life. Though his accomplishments didn’t change the world in an instant, it proved that we weren’t talentless “porch monkeys”.
James and Sudeikis were able to create a compelling story of hard work, perseverance and victory. This film is certainly a conversation starter, not only in the black community, but in all communities. This race is not just about running aimlessly, it’s about running towards a goal. Just know that the goal isn’t necessarily the end, it could the beginning of another race!