The Longest Stride
Under the famed massive Woodruff Tree, the aged John Woodruff tells a lone teen track hopeful his life story in vivid, accurate detail. The “Nazi Games” in 1936 Berlin are remembered for the crushing victories by the black athletes of the United States led by Jesse Owens, challenging Hitler's Aryan race. Also, at these Olympics was a runner that experts say ran the “greatest race of all time.” His winning the first black gold medal in the running knocked Hitler for a loop.
John Woodruff, the last of the living gold medalists from the 1936 Olympics, was a native of a small Pennsylvania mining town and the grandson of slaves. His friends in this virtually all-white community were all-white. However, he had a rude awakening once venturing out into the segregated world in 1935.
He was nicknamed “Long John” for his tremendous stride--the longest ever recorded. Still, Woodruff was forced by Olympic competition to cut his pace, and from dead last place challenge the leaders way far ahead, all under the baleful gaze of German Chancellor Adolf Hitler.
Woodruff, young, black, inexperienced, and arriving at the University of Pittsburgh with 25 cents in his pocket, had to endure challenge after challenge. Running was only one facet of John Woodruff, who also craved education. Though World War II and the Korean War cut short his stellar athletic career, he continued to battle racism, bigotry, and segregation (for Blacks, Jews, and other minorities), helping others.
A recent double amputee, Woodruff’s constant victories in life while battling adversity, is a profoundly moving story of a man who represents determination and grit…despite all obstacles.
Page Count: 236
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Imprint: Milford House Press
Genre: Sports / Historical / African American