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In a time when racism was infecting Germany and segregation was commonplace in the U.S., one man shattered world records, bridging differences with speed and grace.

That man was Jesse Owens, a black track and field star from Cleveland, Ohio, who had been breaking records since his high school days. On Aug. 4, 1936, at the Olympic Games in Berlin, he not only shattered a record, he foiled some of Hitler's propaganda plans.

Berlin had already won the bid to host the 1936 Olympics, a few years after the Nazi Party rose to power. It was a gesture of inclusion on behalf of the Olympic committee after Germany was devastated by World War I, but fascism was gaining ground in Germany as the Olympics approached.

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Anne Owens and Luke Redito / Wikimedia Commons
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When Madeline Swegle was a little girl growing up in Burke, VA, she loved watching the Blue Angels zip through the sky. Her family went to see the display every time it was in town, and it was her parents' encouragement to pursue her dreams that led her to the U.S. Naval Academy in 2017.

Before beginning the intense three-year training required to become a tactical air (TACAIR) pilot, Swegle had never been in an aircraft before; piloting was simply something she was interested in. It turns out she's got a gift for it—and not only is she skilled, she finds the "exhilaration to be unmatched."

"I'm excited to have this opportunity to work harder and fly high performance jet aircraft in the fleet," Swegle said in a statement released by the Navy. "It would've been nice to see someone who looked like me in this role; I never intended to be the first. I hope it's encouraging to other people."

As Swegle's story shows, representation and equality matter. And the responsibility to advance equality for all people - especially Black Americans facing racism - falls on individuals, organizations, businesses, and governmental leadership. This clear need for equality is why P&G established the Take On Race Fund to fight for justice, advance economic opportunity, enable greater access to education and health care, and make our communities more equitable. The funds raised go directly into organizations like NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, YWCA Stand Against Racism and the United Negro College Fund, helping to level the playing field.

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