Jesse Owens

By: Nyana Edwards

  • Full name is James Cleveland Owens
  • He was born on September 12, 1913, in Oakville, Alabama, AL
  • Nickname "The Buckeye Bullet"
  • He died on March 31, 1980, in Tucson, AZ
  • His spouse was Minnie Ruth Solomon (m. 1935–1980)
  • He had three children Beverly Owens, Gloria Owens, and Marlene Owens
  • Jesse Owens at first was a Christian then converted to Islam after at least 2 or 3 years from the 1936 Olympics
  • Owens was the youngest of ten children, three girls and seven boys, born in Oakville, Alabama. J.C. was nine years old when his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio for better opportunities, as part of the Great Migration, when 1.5 million African Americans left the segregated South.
  • Owens attended Ohio State University, East Technical High School
  • As a boy, Owens took different jobs in his spare time: he delivered groceries, loaded freight cars and worked in a shoe repair shop while his father and older brother worked at a steel mill. Owens did not receive a scholarship for his efforts, so he continued to work part-time jobs to pay for school. Owens was Vice-President and the owner of the Portland (Oregon) Rosebuds franchise. He toured with the Rosebuds, sometimes entertaining the audience in between doubleheader games by competing in races against horses. He tried to make a living as a sports promoter, essentially an entertainer. He would give local sprinters a ten- or twenty-yard start and beat them in the 100-yd (91-m) dash. He also challenged and defeated racehorses. Owens ran a dry cleaning business and worked as a gas station attendant to earn a living; he eventually filed for bankruptcy. In 1966, he was successfully prosecuted for tax evasion. At rock bottom, he was aided in beginning rehabilitation. The government appointed him as a US goodwill ambassador. Owens traveled the world and spoke to companies such as the Ford Motor Company and stakeholders such as the United States Olympic Committee. After he retired, he owned racehorses.
  • Due to racial segregation of the time and the fact that African-Americans were treated as second-rate citizens, Jesse had to live off-campus with the other African-American students. When he was attending athletic events with the Ohio State University team, he had to stay in a ‘black-only’ hotel and eat in a ‘black-only’ restaurant. During an athletics meeting at Ferry Field on May 25th 1935, Jesse Owens set three world records (long jump, hurdles and sprinting) in 45 minutes. Jesse Owens won four gold medals (100m, long jump, 200m and 4x100m relay) at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. Adolph Hitler had planned to use the Berlin Olympic Games to showcase the superiority of the Aryan race. Germany did lead the medals table, but Jesse Owens was the star of the Games. Jesse Owens died in Tuscon, Arizona in 1980. He had smoked all of his life and developed lung cancer. Owens is buried in Chicago in Oak Woods Cemetery.

Comment Stream

2 years ago

Great job! This looks really good.