2 years ago

Legendary Alabamian who dominated Hitler’s Nazis at the Olympics gets his own movie

Jesse Owens

A movie depicting the life of Alabama-born Jesse Owens is being released on February 19th. Focus Features’ “Race” stars Stephan James (Selma) as Owens and Jason Sudeikis (Saturday Night Live) as Ohio State track coach Larry Snyder.

Jesse Owens was an Olympic athlete who traveled to the 1936 Summer Games in Berlin, Germany, during the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Owens, the son of sharecroppers, was born in Oakville, Alabama, in 1913.

For the first few years of his life, Owens could not walk. By the age of six, however, he was not only able to walk, but he could run — and fast.

“He liked doing it because it was something he could do by himself,” said James Pinion, director of the Jesse Owens Memorial Park in Oakville.

As Owens grew up and his legs grew stronger, he became a talented runner, which led to breaking several world track records in high school. These records received the attention of colleges, and Owens soon joined Ohio State University’s track team.

Jesse Owens poster

He continued to break records at college.

“[His Coach] timed him one time and he thought his watch was broke because he ran so fast. So he made him do it again to check,” said Pinion. This moment can be seen in the trailer for the new film.

In 1936, Owens competed in the Olympic games hosted in Berlin, Germany. During this time, Hitler was coming to power and wanted to use the games to promote his agenda of Aryan supremacy. Owens crashed Hitler’s party and dominated the games, becoming the first American to win four gold medals in track and field, a record that stood for 48 years. He also set three new world records that year.

“Race” deals with a number of historical issues, from racial tensions in the United States to the injustices against Jews in Germany. The trailer for the film includes a particularly tense moment when a reporter asks, “Mr. Owens, how can you justify taking part in Germany when there is so much discrimination here at home?”

But the film is more than a history lesson; it is a story of inspiration that showcases the American spirit, courage, determination, tolerance, and friendship. It strives to be the next in a long list of sports movies that will leave a lasting impression on the audience.

The impact of Jesse Owens is still felt today. He inspired generations of athletes, including Olympian Harrison Dillard, who still remembers seeing Owens in person during a parade after his Olympic success.

“As the car passed, he looked down and winked and said ‘hey kids, how are you,’ he recalls. “We thought that was the greatest thing in the world that our idol spoke to us. I ran back home and nearly tore the screen door off the hinges yelling to my mother that I just saw Jesse Owens, and I told her I was going to be just like him.”

Jesse Owens, a boy born in Alabama, went to Germany to face Adolf Hitler’s “master race,” and beat him. Like Stephan James says in the trailer, “Out there, there ain’t no black and white, there’s only fast and slow. Nothing matters—not color, not money, not even hate.”

“Race” opens in theaters February 19th.



29 mins ago

Did Putin order the Salisbury hit?

Britain has yet to identify the assassin who tried to murder the double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury, England.

But Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson knows who ordered the hit.

“We think it overwhelmingly likely that it was (Russian President Vladimir Putin’s) decision to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the U.K.”


“Unforgivable,” says Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov of the charge, which also defies “common sense.” On Sunday, Putin echoed Peskov: “It is just sheer nonsense, complete rubbish, to think that anyone in Russia could do anything like that in the run-up to the presidential election and the World Cup. … It’s simply unthinkable.”

Putin repeated Russia’s offer to assist in the investigation.

But Johnson is not backing down; he is doubling down.

“We gave the Russians every opportunity to come up with an alternative hypothesis … and they haven’t,” said Johnson. “We actually have evidence … that Russia has not only been investigating the delivery of nerve agents for the purposes of assassination but has also been creating and stockpiling Novichok,” the poison used in Salisbury.

Why Russia is the prime suspect is understandable. Novichok was created by Russia’s military decades ago, and Skripal, a former Russian intel officer, betrayed Russian spies to MI6.

But what is missing here is the Kremlin’s motive for the crime.

Skripal was convicted of betraying Russian spies in 2006. He spent four years in prison and was exchanged in 2010 for Russian spies in the U.S. If Putin wanted Skripal dead as an example to all potential traitors, why didn’t he execute him while he was in Kremlin custody?

Why wait until eight years after Skripal had been sent to England? And how would this murder on British soil advance any Russian interest?

Putin is no fool. A veteran intelligence agent, he knows that no rival intel agency such as the CIA or MI6 would trade spies with Russia if the Kremlin were to go about killing them after they have been traded.

“Cui bono?” runs the always relevant Ciceronian question. “Who benefits” from this criminal atrocity?

Certainly, in this case, not Russia, not the Kremlin, not Putin.

All have taken a ceaseless beating in world opinion and Western media since the Skripals were found comatose, near death, on that bench outside a mall in Salisbury.

Predictably, Britain’s reaction has been rage, revulsion and retaliation. Twenty-three Russian diplomats, intelligence agents in their London embassy, have been expelled. The Brits have been treating Putin as a pariah and depicting Russia as outside the circle of civilized nations.

Russia is “ripping up the international rulebook,” roared Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson. Asked how Moscow might respond to the expulsions, Williamson retorted: Russia should “go away and shut up.”

Putin sympathizers, including Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, have been silenced or savaged as appeasers for resisting the rush to judgment.

The Americans naturally came down on the side of their oldest ally, with President Donald Trump imposing new sanctions.

We are daily admonished that Putin tried to tip the 2016 election to Trump. But if so, why would Putin order a public assassination that would almost compel Trump to postpone his efforts at a rapprochement?

Who, then, are the beneficiaries of this atrocity?

Is it not the coalition — principally in our own capital city — that bears an endemic hostility to Russia and envisions America’s future role as a continuance of its Cold War role of containing and corralling Russia until we can achieve regime change in Moscow?

What should Trump’s posture be? Stand by our British ally but insist privately on a full investigation and convincing proof before taking any irreversible action.

Was this act really ordered by Putin and the Kremlin, who have not only denied it but condemned it?

Or was it the work of rogue agents who desired the consequences that they knew the murder of Skripal would produce — a deeper and more permanent split between Russia and the West?

Only a moron could not have known what the political ramifications of such an atrocity as this would be on U.S.-British-Russian relations.

And before we act on Boris Johnson’s verdict — that Putin ordered it — let us recall:

The Spanish, we learned, did not actually blow up the battleship Maine in Havana Harbor in 1898, which ignited the Spanish-American War.

The story of North Vietnamese gunboats attacking U.S. destroyers, which led to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and 58,000 dead Americans in Vietnam, proved not to be entirely accurate.

We went to war in Iraq in 2003 to disarm it of weapons of mass destruction we later discovered Saddam Hussein did not really have.

Some 4,500 U.S. dead and tens of thousands of wounded paid for that rush to judgment. And some of those clamoring for war then are visible in the vanguard of those clamoring for confronting Russia.

Before we set off on Cold War II with Russia — leading perhaps to the shooting war we avoided in Cold War I — let’s try to get this one right.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”


1 hour ago

Taylor’s Top Four: Legislative review for week 11

The countdown is on! What’s happening as the session winds down? Read below to find out!

1. Gun bills might be finished for this session . . .  

With time quickly winding down in the legislative session, the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee had a meeting scheduled on Tuesday to consider several things: a bill that raises the age to by an AR-15 from 18 to 21, a bill that would allow judges to take firearms away from individuals who might use them for self-harm or harm to others, and a bill that would ban the sale of AR-15s and other similar guns. The meeting was canceled due to lack of participation—only 4 of the 11 representatives on the committee showed up for the meeting. Additionally, the house, on Tuesday, left without debating Representative Will Ainsworth’s (R-Guntersville) bill to arm teachers. With the session expected to end next week and with no action on the bills this week, it appears that time has run out for these bills this session. Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) has said that Ainsworth’s bill will come up again next session, while Ainsworth has called on Governor Ivey to call a special session to consider school safety proposals.

2. But school safety still looks to be a priority of the legislature.


Just because the legislature isn’t making a decision about arming teachers this session does not mean that they are not concerned with school safety. A bill before the legislature would allow school districts to take money from the Advancement and Technology fund. According to Representative Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa), “If [the school systems] have some security needs, whether those are security cameras or improving door lock systems or alert systems or whatever the case may be, the local districts will have the flexibility to point these resources to those specific needs.” The bill previously passed the Senate, passed the house this week, and now heads back to the Senate for a conference committee or concurrence vote.

3. A bill that would bring an ethics law change for economic developers is still moving, but maybe not for long. 

Remember the controversial ethics bill that the House passed by a large margin during week 9 of the legislative session? As a reminder, this bill would allow economic developers to be exempt from the rules that lobbyists are subject to, which includes registration as a lobbyist,  annual training, and reporting of activities. Earlier week, the bill was passed by the Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee. On Thursday, Senator Dick Brewbaker (R-Montgomery) told reporter Chip Brownlee that there are a handful of senators ready to filibuster the bill in its current form. Brian Lyman reported that there may be a substitute in the works, which would be brought up on Tuesday.

4. BJCC expansion is one step closer to becoming a reality.

You might remember hearing about a proposal to renovate and grow the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex by adding a stadium. Well, in order to fund that project, there is a bill currently before the legislature that imposes a 3% tax on car rentals and leases in Jefferson County. According to Barnett Wright with The Birmingham Times, “The rental tax is expected to generate about $3.5 million a year to help pay the debt service on the project, which the BJCC Authority estimates will be about $21.5 million a year.” The bill, sponsored by Senator Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills) and Representative Jack Williams (R-Vestavia Hills), has passed both chambers and heads to Governor Ivey for a signature.

You also might want to know about…

—  Governor Ivey signed a few things into law this week, including…

—  A bill that would allow death row inmates a third option for execution—nitrogen hypoxia.

—  A contract with Wexford Health to handle the medical and mental health care at Alabama’s prisons. If you remember, the legislature held up the signing of this contract several weeks ago.

—  A tax break for low-income and middle-income individuals and families in Alabama.

—  The Child Care Safety Act, a bill by Representative Pebblin Warren (D-Tuskegee) that allows for more oversight into religious and non-religious day care facilities.

—   Senator Bill Hightower’s (R-Mobile) bill to allow Alabamians to vote on whether or not they want legislators to be term-limited did not pass in the Senate this week.

—   Alabama is one of only two states that does not have a law mandating equal pay for men and women. A bill by Representative Adeline Clark (D-Mobile) would change that, but since it did not get a committee vote this week, it is unlikely to pass.

—   The legislature has approved a bill that will allow UAB to create the Rural Hospital Resource Center, a facility that will be able to provide assistance to Alabama’s rural hospitals.

—   In November, voters will get to decide on a constitutional amendment that will allow the display of the ten commandments on public property, including schools.

—   After the threat of a filibuster, the stand-your-ground-in-church bill, which was up for debate in the Senate this week, has been stalled.

—   The Alabama Rural Broadband Act, a proposal that would offer grants to companies that will bring broadband internet to Alabama’s rural areas, has passed the legislature and is waiting for the governor’s signature.

4 hours ago

LISTEN: Yellowhammer’s Jeff Poor discusses Trump firing Mueller possibilities, Early stages of gubernatorial race

Wednesday on Birmingham’s Superstation 101 WYDE’s “The Line,” Breitbart.tv editor and Yellowhammer News contributing writer Jeff Poor discussed the day’s news with host Andrew McLain.

During the segment, Poor talked about reports President Donald Trump was considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller and how those could have been trial balloons meant to gauge public opinion and to get a reaction from members of Congress.

He also discussed the gubernatorial election and how we are seeing the initial stages of the campaign.

(Sign-up for our daily newsletter here and never miss another article from Yellowhammer News.)

17 hours ago

Alabama House rejects bill to track race in traffic stops

Alabama lawmakers on Thursday refused to debate legislation that would have required police officers to collect data about race and traffic stops.

The bill sought to require police agencies to record data about the race and ethnicity of stopped motorists. The Alabama Senate had unanimously approved the measure, but it hit a roadblock in the Alabama House of Representatives.


Representatives in the GOP-controlled House overwhelmingly voted down a procedural measure needed to bring the bill up for debate. The House vote was largely split along racial and party lines. Only five Republicans voted for the measure.

“After the vote, Democratic Rep. Merika Coleman from Pleasant Grove said lawmakers were sending a message that, “Bama is still backwards.”

Coleman said the bill collects data to determine if there are problems.

“When you vote against a bill that simply collects data, just data on who is being stopped, why they are being stopped and who is stopping them, there is something wrong with that,” Coleman said.

African-American lawmakers had shared stories of being stopped by police during debate on the bill as it moved through the Alabama Legislature.

The bill’s defeat sparked a filibuster by African-American legislators and threatened to cloud the remainder of the session. It eroded warm feelings that had filled the chamber moments earlier when lawmakers broke out in applause after voting to create a state holiday honoring civil rights icon honoring Rosa Parks.

The bill drew opposition from some law enforcement representatives who said departments already have policies against racial profiling and the bill would require additional paperwork.

Rep. Connie Rowe, a former police chief, said she was concerned that officers, assigned to work in mostly minority neighborhoods, could wrongly appear to be targeting minorities if the data was collected.

Rep. Allen Farley, a former assistant Jefferson County sheriff, was one of the Republicans who voted for the bill.

“This to me protects the good guys,” Farley, a Republican from McCalla, said. Farley said bad officers need to be identified.

House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, who voted against the bill, said he wanted to meet with lawmakers to see if they could work out a compromise plan.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

17 hours ago

Jeana Ross is a 2018 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact

An Alabama program called First Class Pre-K is seeing such extraordinary results that Harvard University is producing a documentary about the effort and more than 30,000 four-year-olds were pre-registered last year in hopes of snagging one of the less than 17,000 available spots state-wide.

The program is overseen by Alabama Secretary of Early Education Jeana Ross, a 2018 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact, who has seen First Class Pre-K’s attendance increase by 374 percent under her leadership, while maintaining the highest possible ranking for quality by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).

Alabama hosts the program in more than 950 classrooms statewide and is one of only two states to meet all 10 of the institute’s quality benchmarks.


Ross told Yellowhammer News that the most rewarding part of her work is seeing firsthand the impact that skilled teachers can make, inspiring “a sense of wonder, joy, creativity, achievement and success” in a student’s learning.

“I care about children and their right to reach their greatest potential,” Ross said. “Education can and should provide children a powerful opportunity to find purpose and success for their future lives.”

Studies measuring results from tests such as the Alabama Reading and Math Test and the ACT found that First Class Pre-K alumni outperformed their peers who did not attend the program, according to the Alabama School Readiness Alliance.

Ross helped secure a $77.5 million preschool development grant to help fund the state-funded program, which also requires local communities to provide at least 25 percent of the funding to participate.

Also under her leadership, the Office of Early Learning and Family Support division of her department has expanded to serve 4,289 vulnerable families and children through more than $12 million in federal awards.

In all, Ross has led her department in writing and receiving federal grant awards totaling more than $100 million.

She attributes much of her success to the partnerships she has built with other groups serving children and families in Alabama to build a cohesive support system.

“My success has been achieved in a collective effort of devoted educators who, regardless of pay or recognition, work to create experiences where children enjoy through natural curiosity and joyful exploration a love of learning that lasts a lifetime,” Ross said.

Ross is a member of Governor Kay Ivey’s cabinet and was appointed by Governor Bentley in 2012. She advises the governor and state legislature in matters relating to the coordination of services for children under the age of 19 and, among her divisions, also oversees the Children’s Policy Councils, the Children First Trust Fund and the Head Start Collaboration office.

Ross previously served in a variety of education roles in Alabama, including as a central office administrator, assistant principal and classroom teacher. She holds a master’s degree in education leadership from the University of Alabama and a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from UAB.

“My hope for education in Alabama is for every child to have a competent, sensitive and responsive teacher every day, every year,” Ross said.

As other states look to Ross’s success in Alabama’s early education, she offered three recommendations in a 2017 U.S. Department of Education interview:

“Set high-quality standards, communicate what those are, and demonstrate what they look like; involve parents, businesses and industry leaders in the initiative; and provide supports such as coaching and monitoring to maintain quality,” she said.

Ross and her husband live in Guntersville and Montgomery and have two adult sons and two grandchildren.

Join Ross and special guests from across the state for a Birmingham awards event March 29 honoring the 20 Yellowhammer Women of Impact whose powerful contributions advance Alabama. Details and registration may be found here.

Rachel Blackmon Bryars is managing editor of Yellowhammer News.