The proposal that Negro athletes should boycott the Olympic Games as part of the Civil Rights campaign has received no support from one of the greatest Negro sportsmen of all time - Jesse Owens.
TRANSCRIPT: OWENS: "There are many reasons why I don't agree. Because I looked at what the Olympics are doing. Then I am thinking in terms of the thing that we have in this nation that is bringing about a better understanding of people, and that is in the world of athletics."
INTERVIEWER: "All right. Let's break these sports up now. Negroes predominate in most of them, don't they?"
OWENS: "Well, they have the ability, and the opportunity is now given to them where they are able to participate in the various sports. Of course the better boy is participating there, and he is showing his ware, and this is good for us!"
INTERVIEWER: "Would you then let your athletes still participate, and forget Civil Rights as far as athletics are concerned?"
OWENS: "Well I wouldn't forget the Civil Rights. Lets say this. Let them complete because this is our showcase. This is showing that when opportunities are given people, they certainly can fulfil their responsibilities as a citizen and as a representative of this country."
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: The proposal that Negro athletes should boycott the Olympic Games as part of the Civil Rights campaign has received no support from one of the greatest Negro sportsmen of all time - Jesse Owens.
The original boycott suggestion came from Negro athlete Mal Whitfield. He won the gold medal for the 800 metres race at the 1948 and 1952 Olympics.
Owens, who won four gold medals in the 1936 Olympic Games was asked why he did not support Whitfield.