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The company you keep

I never met Jesse Owens, but we were in the same hospital once.

Shortly before he died in 1980, he was undergoing cancer treatment at the University of Arizona medical center. I covered a news conference at that hospital as a reporter for the morning paper in Tucson.

It's not much of a link, I admit. But ever since, seeing or hearing the track legend's name always catches my attention. And so it was last night when I noticed that the “American Experience” on PBS was about Owens.

Maybe you have wondered the same thing upon seeing footage of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and hearing once again the story of how Hitler refused to shake the gold medal-winning black man's hand.

How do modern American racists feel when they see that? Is that who they want to philosophically link arms with — the Nazis? Doesn't that link shame them?

Fortunately, no matter how many times you watch, Jesse Owens always wins.

And the clock was already ticking on the Nazis.   

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About this blog

Features writer Paul Turner is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review in the Features department. He writes "The Slice" column, which appears six times a week and produces general features stories for the Today section.

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