Deborah Riley Draper’s awe-inspiring film on Blacks in 1936 Olympics

Deborah Riley Draper (Photo Courtesy: Coffe Bluff Pictures)
Deborah Riley Draper (Photo courtesy of Coffe Bluff Pictures)

Deborah Riley Draper has unearthed yet another untold story. The writer and director of the award-winning and critically acclaimed documentary Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution, has produced a new nonfictional motion picture. Titled Olympic Pride, American Prejudice, it sheds light on the experiences of 18 African American Olympians who defied Jim Crow and Adolf Hitler to win hearts and medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.

An advertising executive, a Film Independent Documentary Lab Fellow and member of the Film Fatales network, Draper shares, “I’ve spent my career in advertising and marketing, working on blue chip brands, creating their communication strategy and building campaigns in television, radio, digitally and social media. All of that is storytelling. That storytelling about products and storytelling about brands. I saw this story about this amazing fashion show in 1973 and it had Black models. I thought that’s the story I want to tell. I want to tell a story about who I am, what I believe in and what I think people should know about what we as African Americans has contributed to the world. I am still a marketing person. I am still an advertising person. But I am a filmmaker and I actually get to use those marketing and advertising skills to promote films that I direct, that I write for my production company. All those skills are necessary these days to be an independent filmmaker.”

Set against the strained and turbulent atmosphere of a racially divided America, which was torn between boycotting Hitler’s Olympics or participating in the Third Reich’s grandest affair, Olympic Pride, American Prejudice follows 16 men and two women before, during and after their heroic turn at the Summer Olympic Games in Berlin. They represented a country that considered them second-class citizens and competed in a country that rolled out the red carpet in spite of an undercurrent of Aryan superiority and anti-Semitism.

They were world heroes yet returned home to a short-lived glory. This story is complicated. This story is triumphant but unheralded. This story is a vital part of history and is as relevant today as it was almost 80 years ago.

Since the 1936 Olympics was a well-documented event, this film will utilize the wealth of newsreel material, newspaper articles, photographs, personal interviews and never-before-seen footage as well as resources from the personal archival collections of Olympians and organizations in both the U.S. and Germany.

The film is produced by Coffee Bluff Pictures (, Draper’s Atlanta-based independent film venture created to develop, produce and distribute compelling stories that shed light on the life and stories of the underrepresented.

“What’s beautiful about being a former marketer is that I am able to create wonderful partnerships. We have a great partnership with Comcast. And we have a great partnership with Procter & Gamble. Comcast has afforded everyone with their service to watch this film,” she avers.

Narrated by Blair Underwood with executive producers Dr. Amy Tiemann, Michael A. Draper and Underwood,Olympic Pride, American Prejudice is now available on Streampix until September 4, 2016. Xfinity customers can find the documentary on Streampix by visiting the On Demand section or an Xfinity voice remote, simply say: “Black Film & TV” and find “Olympic Pride American Prejudice” in the featured “Olympics Celebration” collection.

Yvette Caslin
Yvette Caslin

I'm a writer, image architect & significance marketer. Love photojournalism, creative expression & originality.

No Comments Yet

Comments are closed