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Documentary premieres with red carpet in Chapel Hill

A red carpet event took place outside Silverspot Cinema in Chapel Hill on Monday night. 

Dressed in sparkling dresses and crisp bow ties, crowds of people joked and laughed while servers handed out miniature hamburgers and deviled eggs from platters. 

Silverspot hosted the Chapel Hill premiere of "Olympic Pride, American Prejudice," a documentary that follows the 18 African-American athletes, including two women, that competed in the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics. 

The movie aims to tell the stories of the 17 African-American athletes that competed alongside Jesse Owens, but did not receive the same recognition that he does, especially during a time of racism in the United States and a Germany under Adolf Hitler.

Following the red carpet event, guests were shown into theater five of Silverspot, where the screening was held. Audience members laughed and nodded in appreciation throughout the documentary, which featured audio from track and field athletes Archie Williams and Jesse Owens, as well as interviews with the families of the athletes.

The event ended with a question and answer session with Executive Producers Deborah Riley Draper and Amy Tiemann.

Tiemann stressed the importance of the film in classrooms and communities.

"We want this to be a Black History Month staple," she said. "The goal is to change the narrative, to rewrite this story back into history."

When asked how she found out about the 17 African-American athletes that competed with Owens, Draper said it was an accidental discovery. She stumbled upon mention of the athletes while researching a jazz musician in Tennessee and started researching from there.

Both women said identifying the athletes was the most difficult part of creating the film.

"Finding the names of black people in the '30s is really hard to do," Draper said. 

Some of the athletes have unknown death dates, and Draper said they will remain unknown unless someone comes forward with their information. 

Eric Johnson, a post-production producer, facilitated the question and answer session. 

He said one of his favorite lines from the movie was one that defined the history of the African-American athletes as human history rather than American or Black history. 

Draper said the point of the film, which incorporated audio taken from Nazi Radio and American radio alike, was to tell stories that people might never be exposed to otherwise.

"You rarely get to hear the voice of a young African-American man in the '30s," Draper said.

The session ended with a question about the impact of the film surrounding current racial tension, including San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sitting during the national anthem in protest of racial injustice. 

"The question of patriotism addressed to black athletes cannot continue," Draper said. "It has been addressed for 80 years." 

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