Black History movie, Race, draws local dignitaries Tuesday
By Rick Kennedy, managing editor
As the celebration of Black History month continues at the University of Arkansas at Hope, a special Tuesday night showing of the critically acclaimed 2016 movie, Race, attracted several local dignitaries as well as students at Hempstead Hall.
Both UAHT Chancellor Chris Thomason and Executive Vice Chancellor for Student Services and Finance Brian Berry attended as well as new Dean for Student Services Christopher Smith, who has been spearheading many of the Black History events on campus this year.
Other local dignitaries like Hope City Manager Catherine Cook, along with her husband, Jeff Cook, who is a business instructor at the University, and Hope City Board member Trevor Coffee and his daughters were at the showing.
Students from the UAHT Multicultural Society acted as the official hosts for the presentation.
The movie itself followed the true story of world famous 1930s-era track star Jesse Owens (played by Stephan James) through the beginnings of his college track career at Ohio State University to his four Gold Metals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
James’ filmography also includes another Black History film, shown at UAHT in recent years, Selma, which he played young Civil Rights activist John Lewis.
While at Ohio State University, Owens encounters racial discrimination and name-calling from the white athletes, particularly from members of the Buckeye football team. Owens also meets and is taken under wing by Buckeye Track Coach Larry Snyder (played by NBC television alum Jason Sudeikis), who helps Owens harness and perfect his running talent.
Snyder, himself, was a track star for Ohio State University, but he missed out on a chance to complete in the 1924 Olympics. In Owens, Snyder sees a gifted and talented runner, who he believes can win Gold at the upcoming Berlin Olympics.
The movie happens against the backdrop of not only racial discrimination in the United States, but the regime of Adolph Hilter and Nazi Germany in 1930s Europe.
As fate would have it, the 1936 Olympic Games are being hosted in Berlin, presenting Owens with ethical questions and pressures not to complete by leaders of the NAACP.
True to events of history, the movie follows Owens to Berlin, where he famously won four Gold Metals in track and was declared “the fastest man on Earth” as Hitler himself watched from the stands.
Rounding out the movie with outstanding but understated performances were Jeremy Irons (Avery Brundage), Carice van Houten (Leni Riefenstahl), William Hurt (Jeremiah Mahoney), and Shanice Banton (Ruth Solomon-Owens).