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Jesse Owens Bio

Birth date: September 12, 1913
Birthplace: Oakville, Alabama

In honor of Black History Month, Kidzworld looks at one of the most influential black athletes in history. We got the bio on this track and field legend!

Growing Up

Even at a young age, Jesse Owens was lightning fast. His elementary school gym teacher noticed Jesse's incredible speed after a short race in gym class. A track star at East Technical High School in Cleveland, OH, Jesse set the world record in the 100 yard dash with a time of 9.4 seconds. Jesse continued his record-setting ways At Ohio State University. In the 1935 Big Ten Championships, Jesse tied his 100 yard record and set world records in the 200 yards, the long jump and the 220 yard hurdles! That day is one of the greatest single-day performances in the history of sports.

Discrimination

Jesse grew up in a time and place where racial segregation was at its peak. Despite being a track star at Ohio State, Jesse had to stay in an all-black dorm off campus. He had to eat at all-black restaurants or get carry out at other restaurants. Even though he was the best track athlete in the world, he was not even eligible for a scholarship.

1936 Olympics

Jesse Owens walked into a hostile environment coming into the 1936 Olympic Games which was held in Berlin, Germany. At the time, Adolf Hitler was the leader in Germany and the Nazi movement. Hitler, who was largely responsible for World War II, tried to use the Olympic games to prove that the German race was superior to all other ethnicities. Jesse put to rest those claims as he stole the show by winning four gold medals - an Olympic record that stood until 1984. His victory allowed him to travel with and stay at the same hotel as white people. It was definitely a good start to the equal rights movement.

Did U Know?

  • Jesse Owens' birth name is James Cleveland Owens.
  • Jesse Owens was nicknamed the Buckeye Bullet during his days at Ohio State.
  • Jesse Owens died on March 31, 1980 of lung cancer.
  • Jesse Owens used to race horses after the 1936 Olympic Games.
  • Jesse Owens has a street in Berlin named after him as well as a medical center in Arizona.

Jesse Owens Says...

"We all have dreams, but in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort."

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