Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Kimberly Jensen


Track and field in the 1930s provided a unique opportunity for athletes of all races, gender, and ethnicities to come together and compete on an equal playing field. This helped bridge the tension and divide that existed within segregated America but also showed the power that athletics has in highlighting common human characteristics. The evidence that will primarily illustrate this comes from a number of primary sources including six oral histories conducted by the United States Holocaust Museum as well as The 1984 Los Angeles Olympics Archives. These interviews give a glimpse into what the 1936 Olympic experience was like for many of the athletes that did not receive the same level of recognition as their teammate Jesse Owens. The Pan American Games which took place in Dallas in 1937 highlighted some of the harsh realities of racism in the American South despite the meet promoters intentions of holding a “harmonious” track meet not centered around race.[1] Overall these sources will contribute to the field by highlighting track and field’s involvement in healing social divides far ahead of its time.

[1]Dyreson, Mark. “The Original Pan-American Games? The 1937 Dallas Pan-American Olympics.” International Journal of the History of Sport 33, no. 1/2 (January 2016): 6–28.



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