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INFO VINE * The History of Olympian Jesse Owens *

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INFO VINE *  The History of Olympian Jesse Owens * Empty INFO VINE * The History of Olympian Jesse Owens *

Post by Paul Wed 07 Feb 2024, 12:32 pm

The History of Olympian Jesse Owens






INFO VINE *  The History of Olympian Jesse Owens * 588206ea4b3033e1ae08d9270a79ac40
Photo Courtesy [WKSU/Wikimedia Commons]
One of the first African American men to become a notable and memorable Olympian was Jesse Owens. With track and field as his sword, he used it to perpetuate himself into the history books while helping to dismantle the system of racism within organized sports and politics. Jesse Owens has showcased his training and skills for thousands to see and for millions to remember. Are you aware of the story of Jesse Owens? Keep reading to find out the truth of this track and field superstar!





Family Ties


Jesse (right) was the youngest of 10 children - seven boys and three girls - and was born to Mary Emma Fitzgerald from Alabama, and Henry Cleveland on September 12, 1913.


INFO VINE *  The History of Olympian Jesse Owens * 79421f14e802f7d8618a7f2b182f1761
Photo Courtesy [The Indian Face/Wikipedia]


Jesse was the grandson of a slave and his father was a sharecropper. At the age of nine years old, he and his family left his hometown of Oakville, Alabama and his family moved to the North as part of the Great Migration, where 1.5 million African Americans left the south to obtain industrial jobs.


J.C.


Did you know that before he became famous as "Jesse" Owens, as a youngster, James Cleveland Owens was known by his family and friends as "J.C."? How did this new name come about? Because of mispronunciation when he enrolled into a new school when he was nine years old.


INFO VINE *  The History of Olympian Jesse Owens * 44a3c04b2c77a013b2573e75fd2f8b8d
Photo Courtesy [The Ohio State University/Wikimedia Commons]


When his teacher asked him "what is your name?" James Cleveland said "J.C."; however, because of his strong southern American accent, J.C. sounded like "Jesse" to his teacher, which is what she wrote down. Since then, the name has stuck, and he was known as Jesse Owens for the rest of his life.


Working Man


Throughout his youth, Jesse watched his father and older brothers work at steel mills, loading docks, and vehicle services. As a result of his inspiration, Jesse joined the workforce, sort of. Because he was too young for a legal job, he took the initiative and began doing menial jobs. 


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Photo Courtesy [Medium/Wikimedia Commons]


Jesse would help with loading freight trucks, stocking shelves at grocery stores, along with repairing and shining shoes. Although he worked for money, he soon realized that he had a passion for one thing: running.


Charles Riley


After Jesse became fully aware of his desire and need to run, he decided to take his skills to the next level and run with purpose. While attending Fairmount Junior High School, his track coach, Charles Riley, cultivated his skills when it came to the technicalities of running.


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Photo Courtesy [The Ohio State University/Flickr]


Jesse was a determined young man. While working at the shoe repair store, he would practice with Riley. However, his job was after school and cut into the normal practice time. Riley knew this and allowed Jesse to run in the morning before school.


Love & Marriage


At the ripe age of 15 years old, Jesse met his future wife, Minnie Ruth Solomon, at Fairmount Junior High School. She was 13 at the time and the two fell in love. While they met in junior high, the two love birds dated consistently throughout high school as well.


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Photo Courtesy [Chicago Tribune/Wikimedia Commons]


In 1932 Minnie gave birth to their first daughter, Gloria Owens (right), and Jesse was proud. To complete his family, on July 5, 1935, the two wedded. Following their unification, Jesse and Minnie had two more kids together: Marlene (center) and Beverley (left).


High School Days


Jesse's junior high days and Charles Riley are what he attributes his early success to. His work with Charles Riley allowed him to hone in on the basis of the skills that would help him get to the Olympics. But before that, he attended high school.


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Photo Courtesy [New York Times Co./Archive Photos/Archive Photos]


Owens was a student at East Technical High School in Cleveland, Ohio. Throughout his secondary educational career, he matched the world record of 9.4 seconds in the 100 yards dash! He also long-jumped 24 ft 9 1/2 inches at the 1933 National High School Championship.


Ohio State University


Continuing his student-athlete career after leaving East Tech High School, Jesse attended Ohio State University after his father found employment in the area. Although he had a small reputation that proceeded, Jesse still experienced racism, despite his athleticism.


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Photo Courtesy [Jesse Owens Museum/Wikimedia Commons]


For starters, Owens had to live off-campus with other African American athletes. Additionally, when traveling with the team, he could only eat at "black-only" restaurants and was restricted to carry out when dining at Caucasian American establishments. He also had to sleep at "black only" hotels away from his teammates.


"Buckeye Bullet"


While in college, Jesse trained under the guidance of his track and field coach, Larry Snyder. Snyder was a former athlete as well as a military veteran. He obtained a position at Ohio State University after his athletic career and trained students from 1932 to 1965.


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Photo Courtesy [Sports Illustrated/Wikipedia]


Under his wing, Jesse learned how to operate at a collegiate level and learn the rules of how to perform to get noticed. Because of his ability to listen to his mentor, Jesse earned several significant medals while in college that got him noticed by various recruiters, and was nicknamed "Buckeye Bullet".


May 25, 1935


College was a significant time for Jesse Owens because of the achievements that he completed and the world records that he set in collegiate track and field. His most powerful day was on May 25, 1935, Owens set three world records in the span of 45 minutes.


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Photo Courtesy [The Ohio State University/Wikimedia Commons]


During the Big Ten meet at Ferry Field in Ann Arbor, Michigan, he tied the world records for a 100-yard dash with 9.4 seconds. He also set a world record in the long jump with 26 ft 8 1/2 inches, as well as a record 220-yard low hurdles, and sprint with a 20.3 second time.


Owens and Hitler


Jesse Owens is most noted for his participation in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, which was under the rule of Adolf Hitler at the time. As Germany was the host of the Olympics, Hitler felt it was their chance to prove the supremacy of the Aryan race.


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Photo Courtesy [History/Wikipedia]


As a result of the pride in his country, Adolf only supported the citizens that represented his country. At the end of the Olympics, Hitler was said to only shake the hands of his countrymen before quickly walking out of the stadium. Although Owens was there, he never met Hitler because of racial and national differences.


Jesse and Adidas


A little-known fact about the 1936 Berlin games was that Jesse Owens ran in German-made shoes, despite the fact that you can't tell. Adolf “Adi” Dassler successfully lobbied for the German athletes and Jesse to run in his humble athletic shoe.


INFO VINE *  The History of Olympian Jesse Owens * 9db56edef2575f4e615933d8675a4e0b
Photo Courtesy [GQ Middle East/Wikipedia]


The handcrafted leather shoe with long spikes under the toe gave every runner a better grip to tear down the track in. With Owens’ talent to strengthen the claim, success came quickly for Dassler, which led to the birth of his company Adidas 10 years later.


Worthy Olympic Moments


Despite the attitude and perspective of then ruler Adolf Hitler, J.C.'s spirit never failed. The 1936 Olympic games were a magnificent evolution in Owens' career. He set and broke records while creating new standards for Olympic athletes then and now.


INFO VINE *  The History of Olympian Jesse Owens * 63f01452d88a9aabdc334711232f13a3
Photo Courtesy [Black History Month/Wikipedia]


Jesse Owens brought home the gold in the 100 meter, 200 meter, 4x100 meter relay, and the long jump. He matched the world record run times in the 100 meter (10.3 seconds) and the 200 meter (20.7 seconds). He also set the long jump world record at 26.6 feet, a record that wasn’t broken for 25 years.


Olympic Controversy


Owens ran with Ralph Metcalfe who took 2nd in the 100 and 200-meter races. They reluctantly had to replace their teammates, Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller in the relay due to Hitler banning Jewish athletes from the Berlin games.


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Photo Courtesy [Chicago Tribune/Wikimedia Commons]


It was famously reported that Hitler refused to meet with Owens after their victory, but that same motion was carried out by the United States as well. When the U.S. team returned home, Owens and Metcalfe were not invited to the White House to celebrate their victory with their Caucasian teammates.


A Not So "Welcome Home"


After the Berlin Olympics, Jesse Owens was seen as an American hero by many German spectators and African Americans. He faced very little discrimination when in Germany as they did not have segregated hotels and restaurants. It was a completely different story when he came back home. 


INFO VINE *  The History of Olympian Jesse Owens * 4a918c6faaea047882f9ab0930104fab
Photo Courtesy [Fred Palumbo/New York Daily News Archive/New York Daily News/Getty Images]


The discrimination went further than not being invited to the White House by Franklin Roosevelt. Team USA had a parade in New York, NY celebrating their victory where the team was met by then-Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia (standing left of the woman). While the team was able to walk into the Waldorf through the front doors, Owens had to enter through a freight elevator.


Special Appearances


After receiving the status of the greatest Olympian of all time after the Berlin games, Jesse Owens had many lucrative offers just for his appearance alone. Because of his amazing athleticism and charming smile, some of his appearances have been stated to be totaled up to $100,000!


INFO VINE *  The History of Olympian Jesse Owens * 19a95efb7200a66bd1f627b42e3711e3
Photo Courtesy [Wheaties/Wikimedia Commons]


Some of his national and international pop-ups included sports events, speaking engagement with sports teams, and even a few special features. One of them being plastered on the breakfast of champions, the cover of the Wheaties box.


Political Parties


Did you know that Jesse Owens was a republican? He joined the Republican Party after returning home from Europe. As a recognizable athlete that has made the cover of many magazines and cereal boxes, he was ready for the camera.


INFO VINE *  The History of Olympian Jesse Owens * 0f1c1e5f197cdf863daf8caf2a85b3d3
Photo Courtesy [Catwiki/Wikimedia Commons]


Jesse Owens was paid to help in the campaign for Republican presidential nominee Alf Landon in the 1936 presidential election. His goal was to recruit more African Americans to their platform and achieve the goal of statehood. Unfortunately, Jesse's efforts were in vain as Landon lost to Franklin D. Roosevelt by a landslide.


Set Backs


On the contrary, Owens was making several unpaid appearances at events for the U.S. Track Team and decided to quit in order to pursue more paid endeavors. This consequently led to the U.S. officials withdrawing his amateur status, which essentially ended his career.


INFO VINE *  The History of Olympian Jesse Owens * B2dd016732e6748d7ddad6274858c079
Photo Courtesy [Knowledge Bank/Wikipedia]


As a result of his release, Olympian Owens could no longer participate in sanctioned races. In addition, it also led to the loss of the potential future he deserved after his stellar accomplishments in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.


Declining Fame


After losing his endorsement opportunities, Jesse still had a few others that he could take advantage of. One of them was the chance to tour with a jazz band and appear at southern venues. He also found himself doing small jobs to keep food on the table.


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Photo Courtesy [The Ohio State University/Wikimedia Commons]


He took on jobs like being a gas station attendant, a janitor, a manager of a dry cleaner, and even raced horses and vehicles. Racial discrimination was still rampant during these times, which made Owens ineligible for many scholarships and caused his financial pursuit to move away from track and field.


International Connections


Contrary to his optimism, Jesse Owens spent most of his time struggling due to the racial climate and its lack of opportunities for African Americans and people of color. In the air of racial tension, in 1955 Dwight D. Eisenhower enlisted Owens to be a Goodwill Ambassador and travel to Asian countries to promote physical wellness.


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Photo Courtesy [German Road Races/WIkimedia Commons]


Across China, Japan, and even the Philippines, Jesse would educate the citizens about physical health and proper running techniques. On a political note, Owens also made connections with ambassadors from other countries and formed international relationships which continued for the next two decades.


More Downfall


Even though Jesse had an amazing experience across the Asian countries due to the lack of racism, when he returned home he once again experienced his trauma. Despite his recent appearances on television, many jobs were not available to Jesse because of the color of his skin.


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Photo Courtesy [Famous People/Wikipedia]


Once again, Jesse kept his head up. Owens made a living with various other business endeavors while moonlighting as a gas station attendant whenever he was able. Some individuals recognized his face while working, and would often tip him for his gracious service.


Public Service


Jesse Owens found his second calling in public speaking during the 1940s when he started doing public service work for underprivileged youth. This ongoing work led to being appointed to the Illinois State Athletic Commission Secretary to the Illinois Youth Commission in 1953.


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Photo Courtesy [Life Magazine/Wikimedia Commons]


This later led to his Ambassador role appointed by Dwight D. Eisenhower where Owens traveled to Malaysia, India, and the Philippines to lead running clinics. His efforts went towards empowering those he met to use sports as an outlet. Jesse Owens was a philanthropist within his memorable athleticism.


Ford


Jesse's life started to pick up in the early 1940s. After hearing about his friend's financial issues, Willis Ward - a fellow track and field, and football player - collected Jesse Owens and brought him to Detroit, Michigan. Both of them were able to work for one of the most prominent car companies to date, Ford Motor Company.


INFO VINE *  The History of Olympian Jesse Owens * Cf55a1da8b1ff2e89ee5429c48c49520
Photo Courtesy [Henry Ford Museum/Wikipedia]


Jesse was awarded the position of Assistant Personnel Director where he managed employees. Over the years, Owens scaled his way up the corporate ladder. He later became Personnel Director and remained in his position until 1946.


Creator and Founder


After his stint as the Personnel Director at the Ford Motor Company, Owens took his talents to the diamond. He joined Abe Saperstein - a founder of the Harlem Globetrotters - in creating the West Coast Negro League. He also added to his repertoire by becoming the co-owner and Vice President of the Portland Rosebuds.


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Photo Courtesy [Time Magazine/Wikimedia Commons]


Jesse would coach and tour with the team, while occasionally racing horses between double features. Owens also held a role as a sport promoting entertainer and offered local runners a 10 or 20-meter head start challenge in a 100-meter sprint.


Portland Rosebuds


Here’s a little more information on the Owens-owned baseball team, the Rosebuds. The baseball association planned for a 110- game schedule for the 6-team league including the Rosebuds, but it was cut short due to poor attendance and news coverage.


INFO VINE *  The History of Olympian Jesse Owens * 8258bba95d42a401cc932da0caaf52a5
Photo Courtesy [Portland Rosebuds/Wikipedia]


Unfortunately, the league was effectively suspended after only 2 months. The Rosebuds did get to play a few games, closing the league in 2nd place after their final game against the Los Angeles White Sox in 1946.


1960 Summer Olympics


The next Olympic ceremony that Jesse attended was in Rome at the 1960 Summer Olympics. There, he was recognized by top faces and revered as a notable athlete. Although he did not race, he was able to engage in some speaking engagements and appear for photo opportunities on and off the track.


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Photo Courtesy [Tributes/Wikimedia Commons]


He also met the 1960 100 meters champion, Armin Hary, the German track and field star. Armin defeated American Dave Sime and shook hands with Jesse Owens. Because of Jesse, Armin Hary was the last Caucasian man to have set a world record in the 100-meter dash.


New York Mets


A few years had gone by as Owens got by on completing odd jobs and making general speaking appearances. His luck once again changed in 1965 when he was scouted by the New York Mets. Their goal was to have a leader teach their players improved running techniques, and Jesse was the man for the job.


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Photo Courtesy [MetsRewind/Twitter]


After formalities were taken care of, Owen was officially hired as running instructor for the New York Mets. His first season was during their training where he excelled at enhancing the players' base speeds. 


New York Mets Pt. 2


Morale was high when Jesse was brought in as a running instructor for Spring training in 1965. The same year Yogi Berra joined the team, Jesse Owens signed on as first base coach.


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Photo Courtesy [MLB/Wikimedia Commons]


Owens' instruction was meant to improve base running techniques and foot speed for the baseball team. Even the Olympic effort wasn’t enough to save the underwhelming season for the Mets as they closed out the season with a painful 50-112 record, the worst in the team’s history.


Taxes & Fines


After the coaching and the death of a short-lived cleaning business, Jesse became aware of the fact that some of his past profits were not accounted for. This caught the attention of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) who then filed a suit against Jesse for unpaid taxes from his 1936 earnings. 


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Photo Courtesy [Rapid Leaks/Wikimedia Commons]


Jesse was not able to pay for the fines and taxes that were sanctioned on him. His lack of funds led to him declaring bankruptcy in May 1939. After the official documents were filed, Jesse had a challenging time collecting money and obtaining professional jobs.


Endorsements


Jesse worked with the Illinois Youth Commission in his determination to continue educating children and teenagers on the importance of a healthy body. However, he was released in 1960 from his patronage job due to cutbacks. Of course, the famed track star found other means of putting money in his pocket.


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Photo Courtesy [Knowledge bank/Wikimedia Commons]


Owens continued to provide his likeness to big corporations like Sears, Johnson & Johnson, and Quaker Oats. He would also travel on behalf of other brands like Ford Motor Company and lend his voice of knowledge to how the companies products were beneficial to a healthy lifestyle.


Retirement


After experiencing the life of racing humans, cars, animals, setting world records, and breaking plenty of them, Jesse Owens retired from professional athletics to place his full focus on more secular growth including business, public relations, and serving on committees and task teams for name-brand companies.


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Photo Courtesy [The Ohio State University/Wikipedia]


When he was not traveling on behalf of the president or attending stakeholder meetings, Owens enjoyed relaxing on his property and engaging in the simple life. As a result, Jesse Owens owned many of the horses that he once raced against for entertainment.


Black power?


Jesse Owens is a staple in African American history and noted for his achievement and record-breaking athleticism. However, Owens was not a fan of the black power salute that was initiated by African American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Summer Olympics.


INFO VINE *  The History of Olympian Jesse Owens * A1ed0d0510939732372262b279984aa1
Photo Courtesy [The Ohio State University/Wikimedia Commons]


Jesse stated "The black fist is a meaningless symbol. When you open it, you have nothing but weak, empty fingers. The only time the black fist has significance is when there's money inside...that's where the power lies."


Revision


As previously stated by Jesse Owens, his perspective on the black power fist was seen as ignorant to many of his fellow African American friends, and even from many of his business associates. It took him four years to realize the significance of his statement and he decided to revise it to clear his name and reputation in the African American community.


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Photo Courtesy [QBbooks/Wiipedia]


In his 1972 book, I Have Changed, Owens clarified his stance. "I realized now that militancy in the best sense of the word was the only answer where the black man was concerned, that any black man who wasn't a militant in 1970 was either blind or a coward.


1972 Olympics


He may not have been racing anymore, but Jesse Owens was still a prominent face in the track and field sport. Because of his ongoing fame, Owens was able to travel to Munich for the 1972 Summer Olympics. There, he was treated as a special guest and was able to meet many executives of the German country.


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Photo Courtesy [German Sports/Wikimedia Commons]


The West German government showcased the presence of Jesse Owens (third from left) to their citizens and Jesse was pleased. He was also introduced to prominent German figures like West German Chancellor Willy Brant and former boxer Max Schmeling.


Medal of Freedom


Jesse's post-Olympic years were filled with special appearances, cross-country travel, and recognition amongst many faces of different ethnicities. With his skills and experience at hand and the quality athleticism that he portrayed, he was presented with the highest civilian honor in the United States.


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Photo Courtesy [ESPN/Wikimedia Commons]


Jesse Owens was adorned with the Medal of Freedom in 1976. It was presented to him by then-president Gerald Ford in front of the members of the 1976 United States Olympic team who were in attendance. Jesse was both astonished and pleased to receive the prestigious award from the president.


Living Legend


In addition to the Medal of Freedom from President Gerald Ford, Jesse Owens also received another prestigious award. In February 1979, Jesse returned to the White House to receive the Living Legend Award, presented to him by President Jimmy Carter with support from government officials like Major Ernest Payton.


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Photo Courtesy [The Ohio State University/Wikipedia]


The reason for the award was based on President Carter's astonishment with Jesse's skills and his amazing capabilities to own the track and field. President Carter was quoted saying: "...since this superb achievement, he has continued in his own dedicated, but modest way, to inspire others to reach for greatness."


Boycott


After receiving the Living Legend Award, Jesse Owens decided to use his political power to influence President Jimmy Carter and his administration staff concerning the Olympics. He tried to convince the Carter administration to pull their demand that the United States boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics due to the protest of the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan.


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Photo Courtesy [AZCentral/Wikimedia Commons]


Owens' argument was based on the notion that the ideals of the Olympics were supposed to be observed as a "relief" from war and other political and worldly issues. Unfortunately, his efforts were left in vain and President Carter kept the boycott in motion.


Hospitalization


We may know Jesse Owens as an amazing track and field athlete, but ironically, did you know that Mr. Owens was a cigarette smoker? A pack-a-day cigarette smoker! His habit started after his 1936 Olympic feature at the age of 32 years.


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Photo Courtesy [The Ohio State University/Wikimedia Commons]


The track star's smoking habit lasted for 35 years and in December 1979, he was frequently hospitalized for adverse effects of an aggressive and drug-resistant type of lung cancer. Although doctors did what they could to keep his symptoms down, his lungs were deteriorating.


Passing of Greatness


With his ever-growing cancer penetrating his lungs, it metastasized and caused his death. J.C. Owens died on March 31, 1980, in Tuscon, Arizona at the age of 66. He was survived by his wife and other family members who were by his side as he passed on. The family and even some doctors who knew him were extremely saddened by the loss.


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Photo Courtesy [Jesseowensmemorialpark/Wikipedia]


Following the funeral, J.C. was buried in Chicago at the Oak Woods Cemetery. The tombstone at his gravesite is inscribed with the accurate words "Jesse Owens 1936 Olympic Champion" and is located against the backdrop of the lake in the cemetery.


Tribute


When the nation found out Jesse Owens had passed away from lung cancer, a figurative dismal cloud hung over the heads of many Americans and country officials. Even President Jimmy Carter expressed his deepest sympathies, although he didn't see eye-to-eye with Jesse on his stance to cancel the 1980 Olympic boycott.


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Photo Courtesy [National Archives/Wikimedia Commons]


As he addressed the nation, Jimmy Carter commended Jesse on his undying commitment to the sport of track and field. President Carter was quoted saying "Perhaps no athlete better symbolized the human struggle against tyranny, poverty, and racial bigotry."


Living Museum


After all the accomplishments that Jesse Owens had achieved, the nation took it upon itself to commemorate him for his spectacular athletic performances and record-setting skills. During the Berlin Olympics, Owens had to stay in a dormitory that was meant for African Americans only.


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Photo Courtesy [Professional Southerner/Wikimedia Commons]


As of today, the dormitory is dedicated to Jesse Owens as a living museum. Within the rooms are numbers memorabilia of Owens' astonishing Olympic feats, including a letter that forewarned Jesse not to shake hands with Adolf Hitler. Some of his lifetime achievement medals are also showcased in the room that he slept in.


Berlin


Jesse Owens is a big deal in Germany's history as this is the location where he showcased his best performances. As a result, he has several monuments to him and his athletic feats in Berlin. The Olympic Village House of Jesse Owens, “The Meissen House”, is a monument in Germany to this day.


INFO VINE *  The History of Olympian Jesse Owens * 4bb91a4196a48e6ad4ea38992184bc9b
Photo Courtesy [Chicagogeek/Flickr]


Additionally, a street outside of the Olympic stadium was renamed Jesse-Owens-Allee after him in 1984. Anyone visiting Berlin should include the village as a part of their tour as it is open today for anyone to see and take a stroll down the track superstar’s street.


The legacy continues


With his history literally written in the history books, Jesse Owens' life story has been debuted in several highlights. For instance, his 1936 Olympic journey was documented along 17 other African American athletes in the film Olympic Pride, American Prejudice.


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Photo Courtesy [Race/IMDb]


Let's not forget that Jesse has his own documentary called Race. It was released in 2016 as a biographical sports drama and the four gold medals he won at the Berlin Olympic Games. Several books have also been published based on his personal history and inspirational athletic career.


Many Firsts


Jesse Owens was one of the first athletes to engage in seriously groundbreaking achievements in both sports and the African American community. For starters, not only was he the first athlete to be endorsed by the infamous shoe company, Adidas, he was the first African American athlete to ever receive an endorsement!


INFO VINE *  The History of Olympian Jesse Owens * 27be95d782d6f830cf47d23e9d3732a5
Photo Courtesy [Chicago Tribune/Wikimedia Commons]


He was also the first athlete to win 4 gold medals in a single Olympics, and the first athlete to set three world records at the Big Ten Championship. The athleticism shown by Jesse Owens during the Big Ten Championship has been stated to possibly never be seen again.


Silver Olympic Order


The cherry on top is when Jesse Owens was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. In 1976, he was also inducted into the Silver Olympic Order for his quadruple victory in the Berlin games and for his defense and ethics of sport.


INFO VINE *  The History of Olympian Jesse Owens * 0bcd0b1b87970d0c09b8bee83d4ce467
Photo Courtesy [WorldAthletics/Wikipedia]


Here's a fun fact: Jesse Owens has an asteroid named after him! Astronomer Antonin Mrkos from the Klet Observation in the Czech Republic discovered the asteroid and marked it as 6758 Jesseowens that was almost 7 1/2 miles across with a speed of 150,000 miles per hour!


Jesse Owens Award


In 1981, the USA Track & Field, which is the governing body of track and field, cross country running, road running, and race-walking, created the Jesse Owens Award. The prestigious honor is given to the country's top track and field athlete.


INFO VINE *  The History of Olympian Jesse Owens * F18355b9bad5764749cdf4a3801ef604
Photo Courtesy [University of Iowa/Wikimedia Commons]


Recently, Luka Garza was named the 2020-2021 Big Ten Owens Male Athlete of the Year, another award named after Jesse. He was the former player for the Iowa Hawkeyes and the first Hawkeye men's basketball player to earn the honor of receiving the award.


Jesse Owens Memorial Park


The Jesse Owens Memorial Park was dedicated to his life and career on June 29, 1996, along with the arrival of his Olympic torch. The park reveals many memorials for Owens including a replica of his childhood home, a broad jump pit, a statue in his famous running position, and a museum featuring his greatest races.


INFO VINE *  The History of Olympian Jesse Owens * 245237d87fd15f3ef9b4d990e7ded1b8
Photo Courtesy [JOMP/Wikipedia]


The glass cases in the museum keep his spirit alive by depicting significant moments and clothing from Owens' life. You can find the 1936 Olympics program there and the very track uniform and shoes that Jesse wore during the Berlin Games.


Jesse's poem


Back in Oakville, Alabama at the Jesse Owens Memorial Park and Museum, an inscription of his four Olympic gold medals are located on a bronze plaque. The plaque is a representation of the Olympic races and events that Jesse won within a 45-minute span.


INFO VINE *  The History of Olympian Jesse Owens * A4d7655212e39a71f602b073ebb8e752
Photo Courtesy [Eleven Warriors/Twitter]


The museum and plaque were portrayed in the Wall Street Journal on June 7, 1996. The opening of the event was televised and was revered as one of the most significant features of Oakville.


Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium


In addition to all his paraphernalia, in 2001, Ohio State University named one of their stadiums the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium specifically for track and field events. You can see the immortalized version of the amazing athlete in the form of a sculpture in the esplanade of the Ohio State stadium.


INFO VINE *  The History of Olympian Jesse Owens * 6c9606988fd71a6cdec67c6451009519
Photo Courtesy [Ohio State Buckeyes/Wikimedia Commons]


The Ohio State University campus is also the base for three recreational centers. Each center has been named in his honor and is dedicated to the students and staff for sports events, fundraisers, and political endeavors.


Modern Reference


After beating the odds of being an African American in predominately Caucasian arenas, Jesse was considered a phenomenon amongst commoners. His athletic abilities in many track events like flat and hurdles, sprint, and jumps have been used in modern times as a reference to stellar athleticism.


INFO VINE *  The History of Olympian Jesse Owens * 5ae7cf48c6e38464a5b00ad9e3fb7c59
Photo Courtesy [OSU/Wikiwand]


In 2005, professor of sports history Richard C. Crepeau had the obligation of creating a list of the greatest collegiate athletic feats. As a result, he chose Owens' May 25 Day of world records as the most impressive sports achievement since 1850.


Everlasting Honor


Let's also add that Phoenix, Arizona named the Jesse Owens Medical Centre in his name, along with Jesse Owens Park housing outdoor play for the athletes of Tuscon, Arizona. Los Angeles even dedicated their LA Memorial Coliseum with the "Court of Honor" plaque to Owens.


INFO VINE *  The History of Olympian Jesse Owens * 3425a877e3e81c3300217db36a3de889
Photo Courtesy [Ohio State/Wikipedia]


To top it off, Governor John Kasich of the state of Ohio deemed their 75th state park as Jesse Owens State Park (pictured above). You can find it near the mining land near Zanesville, Ohio and it continues to keep the spirit of James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens in the highest honor.
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