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In 1936, 18 African American athletes defied Jim Crow and Adolf Hitler to win hearts and medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.

Their stories are told in Olympic Pride, American Prejudice, a 2016 film (watch the film trailer here) and new book with the same name by Deborah Riley Draper. Draper exposes the complex, triumphant narratives of these athletes, who represented a country that considered them second-class citizens and competed in a country that rolled out the red carpet for them, despite the rise of Nazism.

In this program, Deborah Riley Draper shares some of the stories of these athletes before, during, and after their heroic turn at the Summer Olympics in Berlin.

Watch the program below.

This program’s original recording transcript is below. This transcription was created automatically during a live program so may contain inaccurate transcriptions of some words.

Ari Goldstein: i'm Ari Goldstein Senior Public programs producer at the Museum of Jewish heritage living memorial to the Holocaust and it's a pleasure to welcome you to this evening's discussion.

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Ari Goldstein: With Deborah Riley draper about Olympic pride American prejudice Deborah is an award winning filmmaker motivational speaker and ad agency veteran.

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Ari Goldstein: Who was named a variety magazine's top 10 docu makers to watch list in 2016 her many projects include a her debut 2012 film Versailles 73 American runway revolution.

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Ari Goldstein: A very well done recent feature of two episodes for own called the legacy of black Wall Street, which is streaming now.

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Ari Goldstein: And something upcoming called coffee will make you black You can check out all of her work at coffee bluff pictures COM we're here this evening to discuss deborah's.

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Ari Goldstein: 2016 film and recently released book compendium Olympic pride American prejudice with which accounts, the stories.

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Ari Goldstein: Of 18 African American athletes who dared to defy the racist Jim crow laws and Nazi Germany to dominate with the 1936 Berlin Olympics, we actually hosted Deborah here at the Museum in 2016 when our film first came out.

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Ari Goldstein: Right after the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio and we're delighted to have her back five years later, rather than four, as we are watching.

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Ari Goldstein: This year's 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and we're also celebrating the release of her her book version of the film both the book and film are excellent, and we hope you'll take a look at them if you feel inspired by today's discussion Deborah welcome.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Thank you, I am so thrilled to return return via zoom but thank you again for the invitation and I love chatting.

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Deborah Riley Draper: about this film and I love the rich conversations that we had when I was there in person at the Museum in 2016 so i'm ready for your questions ready for the conversation let's dive in.

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Ari Goldstein: For brief and while we do dive into the audience, please feel free to share your questions in the zoom chat throughout and we'll try to weave in as many as we can.

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Ari Goldstein: i'm Deborah I will ask you in a minute to sort of set the stage for us to give me them 36 Olympics, but before we dive into the discussion, I want to just play the brief trailer for a film, which I think will ground us and and help give the audience a taste of your work.

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Ari Goldstein: So here's the trailer.

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runs in the outside lane next to him, William the American ninja.

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dangerous.

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America.

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This is one of the great tragedies of the story, you tell is you have 1718 athletes here who were on the world stage.

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One of them is remembered.

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By the time 36 came around people began to understand who Hitler was and what his goals were it was an opportunity on the world stage to disprove white supremacy.

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I love my Gold Medal but it's not in history it's not as important as their medals like there for me there's just something so special about what they did, and who they did it in front of.

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did something really important at a seminal point in human history.

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Not African American history not American history in human history it's something incredibly important.

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simply being on the metal stand in 1936 sent a message.

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From that struggle for legitimacy became the foundation of the struggle for access which became integrated into Nonviolent direct action and prime the pump about the king.

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They have stories that have not only drama and drive and power and force their stories that can focus again on something truly important about the human spirit about the human race and what it takes to be truly human and not inhuman.

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Ari Goldstein: So Deborah your film begins with the story of the lead up to the 1936 Olympics and just to set the stage.

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Ari Goldstein: and remind the audience that Germany was selected in 1931 as the host country for the Olympics before Hitler came to power.

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Ari Goldstein: He became Chancellor 1933 and he had a new 100,000 seat track and field stadium built in Berlin was very invested in making the Olympics show a force to the world about germany's return to the world stage, after.

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Ari Goldstein: What was the mood in the United States in the lead up to that night that Berlin games.

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Deborah Riley Draper: that the country was divided, you know we were isolationist in terms of our foreign policy.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And initially Hitler was not interested in the Olympic Games and then his inner team and leni riefenstahl.

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Deborah Riley Draper: explained how the Games, can be used as propaganda itself, and that it can show Germany, as the country of the world, you know as a leader as a showplace so he began to really embrace the Games, as a way to politicize his mission in a way to additional.

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Around his pop.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And in the United States.

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Deborah Riley Draper: There was information coming from all sources explaining what was happening in Germany explaining the politics explaining.

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Deborah Riley Draper: All of the types of discrimination and racism that was occurring, but this information caused a bit of a rip so that there were those who were for the Olympics and those who wanted to boycott the Olympics for the obvious reasons.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And it was a close boat and the American Olympic Committee, in fact, they only won by two boats in order to go to Germany so America wasn't quite sure that they wanted to show up for these Games, but.

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Deborah Riley Draper: The decision was made and the President of the United States at the time.

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Deborah Riley Draper: FDR stayed out of the fray in terms of of siding one way or the other, although he was the honorary chairman.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Of the American Olympic Committee so he put a stake in the ground in terms of serving that role, but he did not swayed the voting, one way or the other.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And for avery brundage, who was the leader of the American Olympic Committee at that time, he was very invested.

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Deborah Riley Draper: In taking athletes to Germany he was in fact bidding to build the German Embassy in Washington DC so.

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Deborah Riley Draper: He went to Germany he visited Germany he came back with this glowing report that there were no signs of discrimination, there were no signs of racism, an African American athletes and Jewish athletes would be treated fairly, once they arrived in Berlin.

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Ari Goldstein: Now I know that, among the among those in the American public and the end in the athletic community who are pushing to boycott, there were two.

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Ari Goldstein: Different concerns there were those who wanted to sort of make a political statement in opposition, and not to use them and then there are also those who are.

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Ari Goldstein: More practically concerned about the safety of Jewish athletes African American athletes, anyone who didn't satisfy Nazi up already rules when brundage came back and said he had gotten assurance that everybody would be treated well how much was mean to people believe that.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Well, I think I think the boat tells us people didn't believe that the fact that the vote was so close That means that.

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Deborah Riley Draper: That we didn't convince them sufficiently or they had information that said, otherwise, and they truly didn't believe him because it was a fiery debate.

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Deborah Riley Draper: You had Congressman you had the entire long island university basketball team say we're not going there were lots of athletes that you know, after having trained they're like.

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Deborah Riley Draper: We don't support this and we're not going to go and then there were some athletes on the opposite side of that that, irrespective of the threat of potential bodily harm.

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Deborah Riley Draper: In these politics, they wanted to go and they wanted to prove that they were equal and or better than then these areas and athletes that were receiving all the accolades from Hitler, so there were a lot of.

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Deborah Riley Draper: A lot of professional personal and political reasons, happening on both sides of that argument.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And everyone who was concerned for the athletes that's a real argument, the protection of the Jewish athletes in the African American athletes.

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Deborah Riley Draper: In Nazi Germany was a real reason to stay home and but for many of the black athletes, but they had kind of a duality.

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Deborah Riley Draper: of reasons they wanted to prove to America that they were patriots, and that and that they can wear USA on their backs and compete at the highest levels and hopefully if they did.

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Deborah Riley Draper: They wouldn't be regarded as second class citizens, hopefully, if they did they can maybe eradicate some of the scientific racism.

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Deborah Riley Draper: That plague, the Community so so there were a lot of reasons to fight for going for these athletes and for and for some of the marginalized communities, like the African American Community who needed to fight racism in Germany and racism at home.

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Ari Goldstein: It strikes me that I mean it's it's the.

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Ari Goldstein: it's not dissimilar from the racial racial laws that the Nazis were putting in slowly throughout the 1930s into effect against Jews in Germany.

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Ari Goldstein: And you have African American athletes who understanding in in a very real way the situation, the United States want to go to Germany to change that and it sounds like you have a lot of Jewish athletes.

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Ari Goldstein: who are calling to boycott the German games and maybe less directly acknowledging what's happening in the in the United States it's a little rich for for the American you know American activists at this time to boycott the Games, for the sake of racial equality isn't it.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Well it's kind of you know, for these athletes who's the most racist country right, you know.

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Deborah Riley Draper: How do you make a decision at this point because a lot of the American eugenics Community was informing what was actually happening.

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Deborah Riley Draper: In Nazi Germany, so that information of scientific racism that information of who was stronger fitter and who deserves to be an American.

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Deborah Riley Draper: was also information that was being transferred to Europe and Germany, specifically so for a lot of the Jewish community they weren't actually thinking of the Jim crow laws.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And, and the things that were impacting the African American Community in the same way, the African American Community was thinking of it, they were thinking very much about.

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Deborah Riley Draper: The horrific things that were starting to happen in Germany and the African American athletes were thinking about both.

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Ari Goldstein: So there was a line I wrote down from the film struggling after you've described the vote at the American Olympic Committee, you say the American team will go to Berlin a win for brundage and for Hitler.

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Deborah Riley Draper: it's it's a complete win for brundage and Hitler.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Because, as I said, brundage is bidding for this German Embassy he owns a construction company and he wants to win this bid.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And he's the he's the president of the American Olympic Committee, he does not want to not go.

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Deborah Riley Draper: He wants to take his team there he wants to shine he wants to show up and he also wants to impress hitler's we would learn.

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Deborah Riley Draper: He is a Nazi sympathizer but for Hitler This is great news America is coming to his games, because if America had boycotted his games that would made his games, not as important.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Not as impactful and certainly the ticket sales would not have been as great so America is coming to Berlin America is coming to Nazi Germany that also signals that America potentially approves of his politics that America potentially.

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Deborah Riley Draper: It could be considered that they think this is a place that is okay safe for them to bring their team, so there was a lot of propaganda in the ability to use that America was on its way to these games.

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Ari Goldstein: Of course, if they didn't go, we wouldn't have gotten the stories of Jesse owens and the 17 please now we'll get more into the story in a minute, but I want to ask you, while we're thinking about the boycott moving.

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Ari Goldstein: The Winter Olympics in China are coming up in early 2022 and there are rising calls to for the US.

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Ari Goldstein: Olympic Committee to boycott it because of human rights abuses in China what's your personal opinion about the lessons of the 36 Olympics, as we wrestle with politics and.

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Ari Goldstein: Sports today.

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Deborah Riley Draper: You know, politics and sports go together, you know, because you can't separate the politics, because you were a country on your back it's we're promoting nationalism we're promoting American wins or another country's wins, and I think as a country.

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Deborah Riley Draper: We have to figure out if to compete purely for the sport of it, or if we are competing with the intention of of a political message.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And that requires the White House and Congress to get involved when we go overseas and compete right, so I think I don't think there's a simple answer to that I certainly don't have a simple answer to that, but.

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Deborah Riley Draper: In terms of personally I don't feel comfortable, knowing that people are being abused and I don't feel comfortable, knowing that.

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Deborah Riley Draper: We can do something or say something about that that could potentially change that and sometimes you do that by being present.

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Deborah Riley Draper: and your presence creates an awareness or greater awareness than being absent, sometimes being absent creates a greater awareness.

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Deborah Riley Draper: I think not only do we have to look at 36 I think we have to look at 1980 and figure out what we accomplished with that 1980 boycott did we accomplish what we end to accomplish or did we create a lot of heartbreak for the 1980 Olympic team.

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Ari Goldstein: Maybe both.

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Ari Goldstein: And so after the US Olympic Committee votes by a very slim margin to proceed with heading to the Berlin games.

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Ari Goldstein: They.

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Ari Goldstein: embark upon the Olympic trials, where they're selecting who's going to be on the team and they end up selecting 18 African American athletes, out of a team of about 400 American Can you give us sort of the profiles of the group of 18 Who are they.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Oh, my gosh what an incredible group of athletes.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And, and I encourage everyone to go to coffee bluff pictures calm in 1936 Olympics movie COM to learn about them.

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Deborah Riley Draper: But when I was learning about these athletes, and let me tell you I thought there was only one I thought there was just Jesse owens that had been my history of this particular team, but it included two women two black women tidy pickett.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And Louis stokes.

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Deborah Riley Draper: tidy was from the south side of Chicago she she was a hurdler the we stokes was from right outside of Boston Massachusetts these women.

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Deborah Riley Draper: These are athletes this dream team we're looking at in this photo right here, these are some of the fastest.

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Deborah Riley Draper: track and field athletes in the world, and these two black women made the team in 32.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And they were benched because of racism, so now, they were back on the team and 36 very hopeful and hoping that they will get a fair shot and that they would have inclusion and access and equity as olympians to be able to.

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Deborah Riley Draper: compete for metals so they're they're rather incredible also on the track team, you had Dave Albert and who was Jesse owens roommate at Ohio State you had Ralph metcalf.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Who was a graduate of marquette and in Grad school at usc he would go on to be a Congressman.

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Deborah Riley Draper: From Chicago he would write the resolution for black history month and be one of the co founders of the Congressional black Caucus.

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Deborah Riley Draper: You had MAC Robinson MAC Robinson was the older brother of Jackie Robinson, and so MAC Robinson came home as an Olympian as an elite athlete so you know that had a profound.

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Deborah Riley Draper: impact and effect on his little brother Jackie Robinson, so if matt can run in front of Hitler Jackie can certainly grow up to integrate baseball.

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Deborah Riley Draper: So these brothers were elite athletes and then in you had you know john woodruff who was who competed at university of Pittsburgh, you had.

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Deborah Riley Draper: A weightlifter you had boxers you had this wonderful array of from 18 years old, to the mid 20s so these were young athletes.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Most of them were either they had just graduated high school or they were in college or if they were like Ralph metcalf they were in graduate school.

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Deborah Riley Draper: So they were young college athletes archie Williams was the mechanical engineering major at Berkeley he had a 4.0 James little bow had a 4.0 at UCLA.

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Deborah Riley Draper: So they were student athletes, they were incredibly smart incredibly talented very diplomatic and.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And they wanted to represent America they wanted to represent black America they wanted to represent their communities and they wanted to represent themselves.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And they knew how much was at stake, because this was a time period where respectability politics was critically important.

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Deborah Riley Draper: For the black community, so you know they knew they had to go and they have to perform at the highest levels, because any failure would be a direct.

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Deborah Riley Draper: and completely direct hit to the African American Community in terms of see this is why we shouldn't let them go because they failed so that was this burden that these young athletes carried with them.

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Deborah Riley Draper: You know, we talked about it there's not mental health for the burden of being American and negro at that time, but that must have been a heavy burden.

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Ari Goldstein: Only imagine here's.

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Ari Goldstein: Many of the group of 18 on the boat cutting over to Germany Deborah did.

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Ari Goldstein: Did this group of a to represent a fairly broad slice of black America at the time, I mean listening to it sounds like this was a very educated group I also it doesn't.

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Ari Goldstein: sound like many of them were from the South, and what patterns, did you notice in in who among African Americans was able to make it through the Olympic trials into this elite group.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Well, they were from the south.

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Deborah Riley Draper: The robinsons mamie Robinson jackie's mother she left the plantation that they share cropped on and move to California, in the middle of the night when they were young because she wanted to get those kids out of.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Out of that oppressive sharecropping system in Georgia Jesse owens and Dave albrighton or from Alabama.

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Deborah Riley Draper: and their families were sharecroppers and they moved to Ohio so their boys can get a better better education.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Jimmy Lu bow was from the south as well he's from Virginia and his parents moved to La so these were African Americans who were very much understanding that the migration.

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Deborah Riley Draper: To the north and the West could provide a better life for them in their children and perhaps as early as the 1930s their kids could actually.

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Deborah Riley Draper: be high school graduates and go on to college what you see here is zero representation from historically black colleges, you know they weren't selected.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And you don't see any division one schools from the South, because you know the University of Alabama and some of the SEC and ACC schools, at the time had an integrated yet it'll be another 30 years before those schools would have black athletes, so you didn't see.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Black athletes showing up.

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Deborah Riley Draper: From those schools, you see the schools represented our UCLA marquette usc Berkeley Ohio State Illinois state for tidy.

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Deborah Riley Draper: So that's kind of the migratory patterns, so you had these southern African Americans moving away from the oppression of Jim crow in the south.

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Deborah Riley Draper: and trying to make a way through the great migration and cities where they could work.

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Deborah Riley Draper: In cities where they can make a life for themselves, and I think.

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Deborah Riley Draper: me me me robinson's an extraordinary story she's a single mother, with five kids she gets them on that train and she has to pasadena California and not a place she'd ever been to before, but a place she heard that might make a good a good family.

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Deborah Riley Draper: location for her kids and she buys a house in an all white neighborhood and sets and sets up residence for these Robinson boys and girls who would ultimately change sports.

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Ari Goldstein: amazing that the story of the great migration so wrapped up in this Olympic group.

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Ari Goldstein: there's a question from an audience Member about type in Louis stokes to female black olympians as part of the team can you elaborate a little bit on what it happened to them in 1932 and how that set them up for 36.

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Deborah Riley Draper: yeah yes, and these girls were sprinters they you know they would come out the blocks with top notch speed and they were winning competitions all around the country and in Canada and and, obviously, when the trials came.

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Deborah Riley Draper: That they had the times and they made the team in 1932 there was another athlete babe Dietrich sin, and they did not like these two girls at all, and she.

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Deborah Riley Draper: was quite mean to them from from the trials, all the way to the games and they suffered at the hands of racism terribly when when they took the train from the Olympic trials in Chicago to get to the La Olympics in 1932 they stopped in Denver they threw a banquet for the team, the team.

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Deborah Riley Draper: didn't invite tidy and Louise to the banquet because the hotel where the banquet was held for the track team didn't allow.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Negroes to eat in the ballroom so they couldn't participate in the team banquet they were allowed to eat in the attic so think about the pressure and think about the emotional trauma and the ptsd that.

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Deborah Riley Draper: puts on young women on of any race.

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Deborah Riley Draper: When you are isolated and when you are.

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Deborah Riley Draper: messages are sent to you that you are less than or you're not equal to you're going to eat in the attic and everyone else gets to have an amazing dinner and banquet in this grand ballroom and this beautiful hotel in Denver.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And then, when they get to Los Angeles there's a lot of maneuvering in.

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Deborah Riley Draper: and negotiating and a young woman who didn't make the team in Chicago was given.

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Deborah Riley Draper: A spot on the team to young women in these two women were pulled up.

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Deborah Riley Draper: at the last minute, so the spot, that they earned that long train ride from Chicago to Los Angeles to compete.

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Deborah Riley Draper: removed so four years later, they come back they're still fast they're still amazing there's still top flight athletes they make it again and for everyone else out there they're gonna have to watch the movie to find out what happens.

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Deborah Riley Draper: But, but they make they make the team again and and they take the boat 10 days on that boat from New York to Germany and they are ready to go.

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Ari Goldstein: wow thanks for doubly high for them.

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Deborah Riley Draper: doubly high they had a lot to prove and tidy have a little bit of a chip on her shoulder because because she knew, she was bench because she had had that a little bit of an altercation with babe on the train um so she knew, she was being punished.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And, and that and that.

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Deborah Riley Draper: You know the disciplining of female athletes and the disciplining of black female athletes we you know that's a conversation that was topical and 36, although they didn't talk about it much but certainly it's one that we talked about now.

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Ari Goldstein: So one of the.

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Ari Goldstein: ways that we often talk about the 1936 Olympics, is that you know once they got there all the athletes were pretty much treated equally, that that.

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Ari Goldstein: For propaganda is sake Germany took down anti Semitic signs and give all the olympians regardless of their race, positive treatment in the Olympic village and.

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Ari Goldstein: that's true, but then their experience of the Games are also marred by these stories of people getting cut from the team with the last minute and questions the rice and about motivations Can you help us understand that a little bit more.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Absolutely, I mean you're talking about politics you're talking about men with power you're talking about men at the time, who had their own agendas both personal and professional you know.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Every brundage wanted to rise within the amateur athletic Community globally, not just domestically in in the United States, and he did he would become a big player globally, so he he met his goals and you have a nation that needs the world to believe.

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Deborah Riley Draper: You know that they are the finest country and that the areas are the greatest athletes and that all things Germany equals the best.

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Deborah Riley Draper: So all of this is at play so the stakes are high for everyone here you have sponsors, you have some of the first corporate sponsors of the Games, you have the first televised games, so there are a lot of first happening there's a.

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Deborah Riley Draper: lot of propaganda happening there's a lot of money to be made in.

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Deborah Riley Draper: 110,000 seats stadium their new companies being born, it does the the you know ADI and his brother rudy one created body does one created Puma right one was one was a Nazi one wasn't that's why they they split.

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Deborah Riley Draper: So a lot of things at stake for a lot of people and for these athletes who want to run and jump and compete because that's what they've been training to do they become pawns in this game.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And for the Jewish athletes who were part of the relay team, they were very excited they had one job they got on the boat.

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Deborah Riley Draper: 10 days one job and that job was to run the relay and when it was time to run that job every branch pulled them off the relay team.

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Deborah Riley Draper: and replace them with two white athletes and so these two young Jewish kids Sam stoller and Marty glickman young one was a freshman in college and one was an upperclassman.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Look at look at that base these smiles they're so ready.

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Deborah Riley Draper: When this picture is taken on the boat for the journey that they're about to take to go run in the Olympics and they made a conscious decision not to boycott they wanted to go and then.

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Deborah Riley Draper: As it is explained by many historians and many scholars, the decision was made not to have these two Jewish men run.

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Deborah Riley Draper: On the team through a conversation between a broom brundage in Hitler he did not want to see potentially because of the speed that these young men had that they would be on the metal stance does, that means they had the potential to Jewish young men on the stands getting a gold medal.

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Ari Goldstein: awful story and they I mean it to think of.

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Deborah Riley Draper: It yeah had done.

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Ari Goldstein: The Jewish Jesse owens a Jewish American athlete triumph enough the Nazi Olympic Games and.

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Ari Goldstein: Now they are what their story is known it they're far less famous than Jesse owens is, and so I wonder for some of the finance or in here.

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Ari Goldstein: To the to the question about boycotting and whether it can be more effective to not be there at all, or to or to try them for big statement doing so.

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Deborah Riley Draper: You know I think I love the fact that Tommy Smith.

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Deborah Riley Draper: was at the 1968 Olympics and I love the fact that john Carlos was them was there with him and I love the fact that they put their fists up.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And that has become iconic in terms of athletic protest what I hate the most is how much they suffered as a result of exercising their right to protest.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Any question inequality in their right to protest racism.

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Deborah Riley Draper: For decades, and decades after avery brundage was still in charge of the Olympics, who in 68 he stripped them of their medals strip them of their amateur status and they couldn't run professionally anywhere it was hard for them to get a job in sports.

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Deborah Riley Draper: So.

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Deborah Riley Draper: They they took.

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A stand.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And I think one of the greatest stands in sports and they suffered for that.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And, and the courage that it takes to do that I think is tremendous so you know I don't know the answer to should you boycott, or should you go and in and take a stand and demand the world to look at at your fist in the air.

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Deborah Riley Draper: I don't know the answer to that, but, but I know the resolve have some incredible athletes, whether you know Muhammad Ali or or john Carlos and tommie Smith to.

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Deborah Riley Draper: decide that you're willing to give up your livelihood.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Is that's essentially what took place yeah hey that.

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Deborah Riley Draper: I.

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Deborah Riley Draper: can't support racism it's pretty powerful.

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Ari Goldstein: amazing that brundage is the same figure and both of these stories so far apart, he really is one of the more sorted figures in the long history of Olympic prejudice.

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Deborah Riley Draper: He was also in charge of the 72 Olympics.

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Ari Goldstein: Were.

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Ari Goldstein: yeah famously the Israeli Olympic team which brutally attacked does not recognize.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Its exact and when it happened was a rebranded she said we're carrying on.

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Deborah Riley Draper: He he purposefully did not recognize so he he was in power 36 was his climb, and he started coming in and the climax of his power was in 72 and he ultimately you know married a German princess so I guess he got.

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Deborah Riley Draper: You know, someone who was of.

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Deborah Riley Draper: German royalty so I guess he got his wish to be a part of of that scene.

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before him.

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Ari Goldstein: Now, how many of the group, this group of 18 ended up metal they really did well as a group didn't they.

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Deborah Riley Draper: did well as a group Fritz pollard whose father was the first African American nfl coach for its bronze and the hurdles archie gold in the 400 Dr Jimmy Lu bow bronze obviously john woodruff a gold.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Jesse three gold medals you know Ralph metcalf a gold and silver Jackie robinson's brother MAC Robinson a silver that you know Jackie Wilson on the boxing team a silver medal so that so they did well they represented and and really in superb fashion.

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Ari Goldstein: So one of the amazing things about the way you tell the story is the extent to which you really feature the voices of these athletes themselves and then also.

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Ari Goldstein: in depth interviews with a lot of their kids how did you in your research process end up coming across those audio files and then getting in touch with the families.

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Deborah Riley Draper: You know it, it was really kind of a difficult um research project because so much of the other athletes were identified as Jesse owens and photos so like every black man on that team was identified.

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Deborah Riley Draper: As Jesse so Dave l Britain was identified as Jesse.

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Deborah Riley Draper: So much, and in fairness, he went to Ohio State, so they figured blackout track team that went to Ohio State must be Jesse owens but it wasn't it was Dave all Britain.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And they were in two completely different sports that he was a high jumper Jesse was a long jumper so being able to sort through the correct names was the beginning for us and really.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Look at photos and go that's not this person that person is wearing a market shirt this is, you know and really looking at what helped us tremendously.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Was the African American newspapers, because they took great care and pride and telling the story, and also the records at the wound in Germany were in just perfectly.

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Deborah Riley Draper: preserved and we can look at the records to see who competed and then that way you actually figured out who was in what competition from what university what name that that was really helpful the the finding the audio files was just a stroke of luck.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Particularly the one of Jesse owens at the Olympic village in 1936, this is just a stroke of luck.

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Deborah Riley Draper: I wish I could say there were some magic to it was just researching and voila oh my God I can't believe this is this So for me one of one of the great reviews, that the film received was from Roger Ebert calm and in the reviewer wrote that it was so powerful to hear.

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Deborah Riley Draper: The voices.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Of these athletes and let their stories just watch over him and he said it just really transported him to the 1936 Olympics and he felt closer and because he didn't know these gentlemen existed, their way of just recalling the story was very powerful to him, and it was for me as well.

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Ari Goldstein: And when you sat down with kids of many of these athletes to interview them did they I mean was the sense you got that they were like 18 to tell their family story, because no one had asked them before.

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Deborah Riley Draper: um well, it was it was a slightly mixed a couple of them said, people had reached out to them before about.

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Deborah Riley Draper: their family, but nothing ever happened like you know false starts, so they wanted this for their family, it was important for them, important for their Community important for all of us, because.

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Deborah Riley Draper: As we watch the critical race theory debate you know move across our country what that's telling us is the history of African Americans and marginalized people are not important.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And we don't want to talk about it and we don't want to learn about it so it's important that we create these opportunities for families to tell their stories for people to tell their stories, so that we can understand.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Honestly, what happens and and and and be a part of a public history stewardship that includes all the voices, not a one sided stewardship.

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Ari Goldstein: It really is amazing to to read your book or watch her film and then sit back and pay attention to the Olympics as they're happening now, and the issues that are coming up and and.

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Ari Goldstein: participating in the joys and the sorrows of the athletes and there's so much that's resident from this from this story, and in that sense it's really public history because it's happened at five years ago, but it's alive today and a lot of ways.

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Deborah Riley Draper: It is definitely public history and and as the public, we are responsible.

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Deborah Riley Draper: For our history we're responsible for moving our history, out of the shadows and out of the nuts and crannies and and laying it bear.

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Deborah Riley Draper: The good the bad and the ugly because we have to do that that's, the only way we can reconcile that's, the only way we can deal with the trauma and in the end, and the hurt.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And the joy, you know and and also be able to understand what has already been accomplished so we don't have to rework the same problem.

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Deborah Riley Draper: every five years, you know these problems have been solved in this way, and this is a way of doing it, this is a cooperative economics model, this is an integrated model that works, you know, so I think that's really important.

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Ari Goldstein: Deborah an audience Member named Victoria is asking if the newspapers, you mentioned work, the African American newspapers were you found so much of your source material if they're available online.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Absolutely UCLA has digitized so much of the African American newspapers and it's just really a wonderful source, in addition to that.

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Deborah Riley Draper: The Chicago defender the Pittsburgh query or the Atlanta daily world, they all are beginning to digitize all of these issues, so you can go the African American newspapers.

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Deborah Riley Draper: a ton of them are at Harvard University as well, a lot at Yale so they are available.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And it was just like a treasure, to be able to find them and keep in mind these newspapers were these black newspapers were so powerful at the time they they reached.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Black America and they even sent reporters to Germany to cover the story so they're on the ground, covering the story and ways southern white newspapers did not and and refuse to cover because.

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Deborah Riley Draper: They were fine with saying Jesse as the singular African American anomaly, but they were not fine with recognizing.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Their 18 great student athletes and archie can fly a plane, because he would you know go on to be a tuskegee airmen with his mechanical engineering degree from Berkeley that was not the image of the African American they wanted to.

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Deborah Riley Draper: publish so that's why you didn't see or know that there were 18 of them you knew that they were swine.

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Ari Goldstein: So they were black American reporters on the ground in Berlin, covering the Games wow.

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Ari Goldstein: yeah where they're Jewish reporters there and did you dig into the Jewish press at all as part of your research.

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Deborah Riley Draper: i'm absolutely um what we had available from the Jewish press was really in the lead up, and it was great because you really understood.

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Deborah Riley Draper: You know the what the rabbi's were doing in terms of hosting these boycott meetings and informing athletes and informing families of what was going on in Germany, so the coverage the coverage up to.

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Deborah Riley Draper: The boat was incredible we saw a lot of that coverage, I did not see as much coverage during the active games.

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Ari Goldstein: Of the Olympics that, overall, or of this group of 18 African American.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Of this group of 18.

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Deborah Riley Draper: African American athletes.

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Deborah Riley Draper: There was lots of coverage of gretel Bergman.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And she was absolutely a treasure, it was such an honor to meet her, I met her when she was 100 years old.

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Deborah Riley Draper: um yeah she had been married at this point for 70 she'd been married for 75 years and her husband had just passed away and both of their parents they've lost both of their parents in the Holocaust and.

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Deborah Riley Draper: So, and they found each other, just to young people found each other in New York and fell in love and they remained in love and remain married for seven decades, and he.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Oddly enough had been a track athlete as well he's Jewish track athlete she was a Jewish track athlete both grew up in Germany, both got out of Germany alive and found each other randomly.

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Deborah Riley Draper: In New York is the most beautiful love story.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And, and I remember this is so precious when I when I went to see miss gretel and I went to her house and Queens and she was like I want you to meet my baby boy.

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Deborah Riley Draper: At this point, her baby boys like 77 and it was just it was so precious and Gary comes out and i'm talking to her like oh my God and in her mind was was so sharp and and Gary warned me he's like my mom cuz is a bit and and and she did.

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Deborah Riley Draper: What she was great and she could recount the moment.

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Deborah Riley Draper: that she was on this German team and she's this Jewish athlete on the German team and they sent her this letter that says we're kicking you off the team.

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Deborah Riley Draper: you're not going to be able to compete after we went through all the pomp and circumstances of announcing that we have this you know Jewish female High jumper on the German team they send her a letter you're out um.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And she never got to compete and then she tells the story in a way that you know you see in the film, which is it breaks your heart, so this young girl was all set.

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Deborah Riley Draper: You know, to compete and and she didn't want to compete in the first place for Germany, she had gone to England so she could compete for the.

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Deborah Riley Draper: British team, but they forced her father to bring her home and make her compete for the German team, and then, once the announcements made they cut her.

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Ari Goldstein: There is a such a rich history of Jewish athletes in Germany and other places in Europe before the Holocaust.

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Ari Goldstein: That I think is too often forgotten about and and gretel Bergman story, as the loan German Jew, who has been kicked off the team and then Sam stoller Marty glickman stories as the American Jews were unable to compete.

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Ari Goldstein: are pretty I think sad reflections of this of the moment in history and also have a lot of the the memories of this time that are lost.

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Ari Goldstein: We do have in in our collection at the museum some amazing sports jerseys and other artifacts of Jewish athletic life in Germany before the war, so we try to tell the story through those but not enough people know.

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Deborah Riley Draper: it's there were incredible Jewish athletes in Germany and gretel obviously she knew a lot of them and and just the sheer disregard of these athletes and and the lack of support that they received is is a story that still needs to be unpacked further and told.

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Ari Goldstein: Totally i'm just i'm publishing your comment from Bob lamb and the audience about the Robinson memorial and pasadena City Hall, which is a great place to go and learn about Jackie and MAC Robinson.

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Ari Goldstein: And besides your film Deborah and the Robinson memorial is there anything else out there, that that commemorates the this group of 18.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And we are so fortunate that this film and this book does that one of the one of my proudest moments.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Is that when we are making this film these 18 athletes never were recognized by the White House, they were never you know which is kind of customary with the Olympic athletes, they were never invited, so the first time.

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Deborah Riley Draper: They received an invitation was as a result of this film they had all passed away, but their families on September 28 2016 were they were able to visit on behalf.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Of these athletes, the Obama White House, and they were greeted and recognized as these 18 athletes and the usoc recognize them that same weekend, for the first time in usoc history so.

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Deborah Riley Draper: For me, that is huge that was huge I you know i'm not i'm not that big of a crier but that in that moment, I could I was overwhelmed.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And when I think about it, I get a little teary eyed too, but finally these men and these women were recognized and after the families met the.

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Deborah Riley Draper: President we took them to the national portrait gallery and they saw the film, for the first time and i'll never forget tidy pick his daughter crying because she saw footage of her mother competing the very first time, in her life, she saw her mother running the hurdles in Nazi Germany.

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Ari Goldstein: Oh, my God what a remarkable moment.

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Deborah Riley Draper: It you know and Allyson Felix was there and some other athletes and in every it was an emotional moment because it wasn't about American it wasn't about Germany, it was about these kids and grandkids and in one case a spouse.

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Deborah Riley Draper: That was looking at footage of a loved one compete in Nazi Germany, for the first time in their life they had heard.

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Deborah Riley Draper: That their loved one was there, they had seen footage of Jesse owens, but this was now footage shot by leni riefenstahl and a lot of other people.

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Deborah Riley Draper: You know amateur videographers of the time that depicted the first black woman to compete for the United States in the Olympics and there, there was there's the footage to prove that she was there and eat it so that that to me.

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Deborah Riley Draper: is why I love making films.

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Ari Goldstein: So often, and I just want to invite the audience to please share any questions that are on your mind.

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Ari Goldstein: So often Deborah we have moments like that.

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Ari Goldstein: Here at the Museum of Jewish heritage, where literally someone will come into exhibition and find an image of a family member on the wall that they didn't existed or somebody or or be reminded you know.

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Ari Goldstein: You see, something that looks a family member on the wall, so I think there's a lesson to hear about the power of.

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Ari Goldstein: Preserving like photos documents and and artifacts as physical evidence of the past and because it.

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Ari Goldstein: You know now with technology there's all sorts of ways that we can connect people with the past but there's kind of no replacement for seeing something really authentic.

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Deborah Riley Draper: there's there's no replacement for the power of watching your mom.

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Deborah Riley Draper: You know 30 years before you were born, you know or your grandparents 30 years before you're born or your mom 20 years before you were born as a teenager you get to see a parent or a grandparent as a teenager.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Who gets that opportunity it's it's rare to see footage of a parent as a teenager competing and to see the swastikas and to see all of that, and it was overwhelming for for tidy starters, because they understood their mothers place in history.

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Ari Goldstein: Just gonna pull it there's a couple photos we haven't gotten to that are great so I want to hold them up, and if you could just walk us through what we're seeing in these.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Oh, my gosh this is wonderful, this is, they were roommates on the boat, this is on on on my left.

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Deborah Riley Draper: that's archie Williams University of Berkeley he would become a tuskegee airmen mechanical engineer, and then he would become a computer science teacher after he retired from the air force.

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Deborah Riley Draper: On my right is Dr Jimmy Lu bow if you are familiar with the UCLA campus the ovale commons is named for this.

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Deborah Riley Draper: very, very fabulous scientists and he received his PhD and he held a lot of patents in.

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Deborah Riley Draper: In the processing for codec so these at the time that's what they did later at the time, these two college kids and.

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Deborah Riley Draper: As Jimmy is Jimmy and archie tell if they're just on the boat having a good time trying to meet girls telling lies about who they knew and and just just doing college kids stuff just just.

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Deborah Riley Draper: filled with joy and excitement and amazement that they are leaving home going to another country for the first time to compete internationally and.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And, and they were in the same sport and 400 and they were roommates on the boat so that's what we're looking at here just two young college kids one at Berkeley one at UCLA.

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Ari Goldstein: You can tell they're having fun in this picture.

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Deborah Riley Draper: yeah.

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Deborah Riley Draper: About this, well, this is our this is this is their race archie once the goal and Dr Jimmy Lu bow wins the Bronze and so you know that at this point they become great friends and they've been competing in California.

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Deborah Riley Draper: In the you know collegiate circles, but here they are they both get to go in the metal stand together in Nazi Germany i'm finishing first and third.

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Ari Goldstein: One more here.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Ah, this photos great um gosh she isn't in this photo you've got Jesse owens you have MAC Robinson Dave out Britain, you know cornelius Johnson.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Fritz pollard down there at the bottom john brooks at the bottom, so you have men's track and Bo.

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Ari Goldstein: This isn't the Olympic village.

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Deborah Riley Draper: This is yeah this is near their dormitories in the Olympic village and they're just kind of outside hanging out having a good time, one of the reporters from the Pittsburgh carriers in that photo as well, so these are young black men.

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Deborah Riley Draper: In Nazi Germany.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And I always love the fact that you know they they just look so great, you know and and one of the things that happened a lot to them, they received so many invitations to dinner into coffee.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Like you know people wanted to get to know them and in their diaries and in a lot of their letters they read, write about how so many of the German families.

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Deborah Riley Draper: were kind to them, they were like not they didn't have anything to do with the Nazi regime but everyday people.

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Deborah Riley Draper: offer them a cup of coffee, they also were marked that they didn't have to go through the back door of any hotels or restaurants or any place that they went, when they were sightseeing.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And that they could ride on the bus and sit wherever they wanted.

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Ari Goldstein: To go through that and to win so so successfully and then to come home and be subject to those same laws again lots of taking a real toll.

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Deborah Riley Draper: It you know, think about it, so when they got back to New York City when the boat.

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Deborah Riley Draper: landed back in the New York harbor they threw a party for Jesse having one for gold medals and for the rest of the team, and these 18 had to go through the back door, the hotel through the kitchen to get to the party.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And the party was for Jesse.

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Ari Goldstein: we're coming up on the end of the hour, so I want to ask you this as their last question, are you watching the Olympics today what's going through your mind as far.

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Deborah Riley Draper: You know um what what's going through my mind is.

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Deborah Riley Draper: How we can actually think about sport in a different way, one of the things that I love about little kids is like you can just take eight kids from wherever.

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Deborah Riley Draper: They don't have to know each other, you just like throw a ball on the ground and all of a sudden, they start kicking throwing and and they forget about the baggage and the preconceived notions and and and and they just play together and they have fun.

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Deborah Riley Draper: and

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Deborah Riley Draper: I want the athletes to have been one of the things that we do is we put so much pressure on them.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And, and we hang a lot of our nationalism and political hopes on them um.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And and that's such a huge burden to bear when you're 14 or 15 or 16 or 17, so I think about that and i've been thinking a lot lately about their mental health.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Because Now people are having conversations about that and that's a really important conversation to have when you're talking about kids that give up everything for 12 or 15 years of their lives and they just training.

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Deborah Riley Draper: And I wonder how or what type of coping mechanisms these 18 athletes had back in 1936 and I would love to know what their playbook was to remain so poised and so calm and in and have such.

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Deborah Riley Draper: A graceful possession of their ability to win under those circumstances when you're discriminated against when you're oppressed when your marginal as on both sides of the Atlantic.

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Ari Goldstein: While while we can't know precisely we can learn so much about that from the stories.

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Ari Goldstein: That were i'm so grateful that you spent, this time with us this evening and gave us a window into this piece of history and into your process and telling this history.

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Ari Goldstein: And to our audience, you can order Deborah Riley papers book Olympic pride American prejudice at the link link in the zoom chat and you can find her film of the same name across the Internet, including on YouTube Amazon prime video and.

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Deborah Riley Draper: sundance and peacock.

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Ari Goldstein: strongly recommended.

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Ari Goldstein: and hurt her to part feature on on the legacy of black Wall Street is excellent to further consider American history and African American history.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Absolutely um I think you and I thank you for the opportunity to have these cross cultural conversations it's really, really important, because we have a shared history i'm Jewish America and African American history.

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Deborah Riley Draper: it's really shared from the establishment of the naacp before that and forward there were so many times, our communities really found.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Strong bonds and we have such strong joint stories to tell and joint experiences to share, and I think we should continue to have these dialogues that open up the discussion around how much our communities have worked together and created things and experiences together.

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Ari Goldstein: said beautifully and things like your film help help create a foundation for the dialogue so we're grateful.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Thank you.

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Ari Goldstein: we're thankful to everyone for tuning in tonight.

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Ari Goldstein: Everything we do with museum is made possible through donor support, so thank you to those of you that are members and donors and if you're not we hope you'll consider making a contribution or signing up to become a member of the museum.

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Ari Goldstein: We look forward to seeing all of you online or in person sometime soon and we wish everyone that great thanks again debra.

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Deborah Riley Draper: Thank you take care bye.