Chapter 6: Making Pop Proud…Lutz Long–Flash Mentor…Forever Friend

Jesse Owens and Luz Long at the Berlin Olympics, 1936
Jesse Owens and Luz Long at the Berlin Olympics, 1936


For Jesse Owens, Lutz Long was what I term a :”flash” mentor. In the book, I make the distinction between flash mentors and long-term mentors. For example, Coach Pop Riley was a long term mentor who worked with and guided Jesse for years.  Lutz Long, on the other hand, was a total stranger to Jesse, but in one brief, critical moment, gave Jesse guidance and encouragement that had positive, profound consequences.

But not only was Lutz Long a flash mentor…he was a forever friend. After the Olympics Lutz and Jesse corresponded through letters and cards.   And when Lutz lost his life fighting for a leader and a cause he didn’t support, Jesse still felt connected to the spirit of his friend.

Years later, Jesse finally had an opportunity to return to Berlin to star in a television special about the 1936 Olympics.   It was thrilling for Jesse to revisit some of the old sites where he made history as a young man. But his biggest thrill was to meet a young man who had blonde hair and an athletic build—Lutz Long’s son, Karl. For Jesse, it was almost like seeing his old friend again…

Here’s a link to the Jesse Owens television special.  I’ve cued it to the section on Lutz and Karl Long.





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