Jesse Owens won gold in the long jump at the 1936 Summer Olympics. In second was Luz Long, a German athlete who in the photograph is doing the Nazi salute.
After their competition, Luz was the first to congratulate Jesse. “They posed together for photos and walked arm-in-arm to the dressing room. Owens said, ‘It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me in front of Hitler… You can melt down all the medals and cups I have and they wouldn’t be a plating on the twenty-four karat friendship that I felt for Luz Long at that moment.'”
The two stayed friends. In his last letter to Jesse, Luz asked Jesse to be in touch with his son, Kai, and to tell him about ‘what times were like when we were not separated by war. I am saying—tell him how things can be between men on this earth’. After the war, Owens travelled to Germany to meet Kai Long…and he later served as Kai Long’s best man at his wedding.'”
Luz was killed in action during WWII.