Tuesday, October 27, 2009


James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens first discovered his love of running in junior high in Cleveland, Ohio. Excellence in track and field followed Owens all the way up to Ohio State University. Undaunted by working several odd jobs to support his family between track and field commitments, Owens became an All-American.


Birth name: James Cleveland Owens
Name change: Jesse Owens
Nickname: The Buckeye Bullet
Born: September 12, 1913 in Oakville, Alabama
Died: March 31, 1980 in Tucson, Arizona
Buried in Oak Woods Cemetery, Chicago, IL

Height: 5'10"
Weight: 165 lbs.
Hair color: Black
Eye color: Brown

High school: Cleveland East Technical High School
College: Ohio State University

Parents: Henry and Emma Owens
Siblings: Six brothers and sisters
Spouse: Ruth
Children: Gloria, Beverly and Marlene
(© 2009 Jesse Owens Trust c/o Luminary Group LLC)

Owens was born near Oakville in 1913
Alabama Department of Archives & History

At high school, James Cleveland Owens either equalled or beat national high school records at 100 yards, 220 yards and the long jump. After graduation, many colleges tried to recruit Jesse and he chose to attend Ohio State University. Segregation was a fact of college life, and black athletes were not allowed to live on campus with the white students. They also had to eat in "blacks only" restaurants when traveling on the road with the team and could only stay in "blacks only" hotels.

Jesse Owens equalling the world 100 yard dash record
A high school student, 1932
New York Times /Getty Images

Two weeks before the 1935 Big Ten Championships in Ann Arbor, Jesse slipped and injured his tailbone as he fell down a flight of stairs. It was doubtful right up to the start of the meeting as to whether he would be able to compete. However, as he settled into his crouch for the start of the 100 yards dash, the pain "miraculously disappeared" and astonishingly he tied the world record of 9.4 seconds. Ten minutes later, he set a new long jump world record of 26 feet 8 and a quarter inches, this record would last for 25 years. A further nine minutes later, he set a new world record in the 220 yard dash of 20.3 seconds. Finally, 26 minutes later he became the first person to break 23 seconds for the 220 yard low hurdles, setting a new world record of 22.6 seconds. In the space of just 45 minutes, Owens had set 3 world records and equalled another.
(Black History Projects Page)

Jesse Owens

Jesse Owens

Brothers Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe
100-meter sprint
1934 AAU National Track & Field Championships
Department of Special Collections and University Archives
Marquette University Libraries photo
The Sphinx

Owens fills up a car at a petrol station, 1935
He worked as a petrol pump attendant
to help finance his studies at Ohio State University
New York Times/Getty Images at guardian.co.uk

Owens was a spectacular athlete for Ohio State, 1935
Bettmann /Corbis at guardian.co.uk

Legendary boxer Joe Louis poses with Owens, 1935
Corbis at guardian.co.uk

220 yard hurdles whilst at Ohio State, 1936
Bettmann /Corbis at guardian.co.uk

Jesse Owens takes part in the long jump
USA versus British Empire meeting
White City stadium in west London
15th August 1936
Photo by Central Press/Getty Images

The following year, in 1936, Jesse was selected to represent the United States at the Berlin Olympics. Hitler had described the black athletes who were representing the United States as "black auxiliaries" and "non-humans" and confidently predicted that the games would be a display of "Aryan superiority". But Owens single-handedly blew that thought away by winning four gold medals in the 100 meters, 200 meters, long jump and the 4 x 100 meters relay. In the process, he became the star of the games and won the adoration of the German public.

Practising his long jump aboard the S.S. Manhattan
travelling to Germany for the Berlin Olympics, 1936
Joe Caneva /AP AT guardian.co.uk

It took nine days for the SS Manhattan to cross the Atlantic Ocean on its way to Germany in 1936. The U.S. Olympic team was its precious cargo. Jesse Owens felt seasick for most of the voyage. By the time the ship docked on July 24 the runner’s arms and legs were stiff from being confined onboard.
The Olympic team immediately boarded a train for Berlin. As they approached the city they could see the swastikas hanging from flagpoles, banners and military uniforms. The swastikas also hung from all the halls and stadiums of the Olympic Games.
Nazism was raging in Europe and Hitler was making a statement about the power of the Third Reich that was impossible to ignore. The Olympic Games were his way of showcasing his “peaceful” regime.
(Rosemary McKittrick at LiveAuctionTalk.com)

Berlin Stadium

The first gold was in the 100 meters, where Owens edged out teammate Ralph Metcalfe in a time of 10.3 seconds.
Gold number two came in the long jump, where he fouled on his first two attempts. One was just a practice run where he continued down the runway into the pit, but German officials didn't buy it and counted it as a jump. Top German long jumper Luz Long suggested Owens play it safe and jump a few inches before the usual take-off spot. He took his advice and qualified for the finals, where he won the gold with a leap of 26—5½. And Long was there to congratulate him. "It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me in front of Hitler," Owens would later say. "You can melt down all the medals and cups I have and they wouldn't be a plating on the 24-karat friendship I felt for Luz Long at that moment."
The third gold was in the 200-meter dash, where he defeated, among others, Jackie Robinson's older brother Mack and broke the Olympic record with a time of 20.7 seconds.
Gold number four was a controversial one—not with the Germans, but with his fellow Americans. American Jews Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller were supposed to run for the United States on the 4x100 relay team. At the last minute, they were replaced by Owens and Metcalfe and it was reported that Hitler asked U.S. officials not to embarrass him any further by having two Jews win gold in Berlin. Whether that's true or not, the Owens-led U.S. team rolled to victory in a world record time of 39.8 seconds and Owens' magical Olympics came to a close.
(Fact Monster™)

Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Germany
Main Entrance with Olympic Rings
Summer Olympics 1936
selbst fotografiert
Sir James at Wikipedia

1936 Summer Olympics Aerobatic demonstrations
Curtiss Export Hawk II
Polish Aviation Museum in Kraków
Author Daniel Delimata at Wikipediaa

Jesse Owens takes off to victory in Olympics, 1936
Photo from The New York Times Photo Archives
Copyright ©2008 The New York Times

Jesse Owens: 10.2, June 20 1936
Picture GETTY IMAGES at telegraph.co.uk

"Jesse Owens at start of the 200 meter race"
"Die Olympischen Spiele, 1936
Library of Congress

Setting a new Olympic record, Berlin, 1936
elimination heat of the 200 metres
AP at guardian.co.uk

Jesse Owens soars through the air
Olympic long jump record, 1936
Corbis at guardian.co.uk

The legendary Jesse Owens 1936 Olympics

Jesse Owens & Frank Wykoff
prior to the 400 Meter Relay race
They later set a new World Record
copyright 2002 - 2007 Dave & Terri Wykoff

When the Olympic team returned to the United States, Owens was given a ticker-tape parade. However, being the nation's hero did mean that he avoided segregation, and he was made to ride the freight elevator to his reception dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria.
He commented "When I came back to my native country, after all the stories about Hitler, I couldn't ride in the front of the bus, I had to go to the back door. I couldn't live where I wanted. I wasn't invited to shake hands with Hitler, but I wasn't invited to the White House to shake hands with the President, either."

A snappily dressed Jesse Owens, 1936
London's Waterloo station
He was to join the Queen Mary en route for New York
Fox Photos/Getty Images at guardian.co.uk

Owens and his fellow Olympians, 1936
a ticker tape parade down Broadway, New York
AP at guardian.co.uk

After his Olympic victory, Owens won the Associated Press's Athlete of the Year citation. By this time, he and his wife had had a child and were expecting a second (they eventually had three daughters). He could not afford to finish school, and he was only able to find a job as a $30-a-week Cleveland playground instructor. He eventually earned his tuition by racing against a horse.
Later, his name was used to promote a chain of cleaning stores, and he was made full partner in the operation, returning him enough income to buy a new house. But the business suddenly went bankrupt and his partners deserted him, leaving him with a $55,000 debt. He managed to pay off this and his others debts by recruiting black workers for Ford Motor Company during World War II.
(Black History Projects Page)

Drive through cleaning shop which he co-owned, 1954

Vice President Richard Nixon meets Jesse Owens, 1958
Owens was running for county commissioner for Chicago
Corbis at guardian.co.uk

Owens eventually settled in Chicago. By this time he had become a charismatic public speaker, and traveled extensively, speaking about sports, civil rights and his own life. In 1955, President Eisenhower named him Ambassador of Sports, and he toured for he State Department around the world. Later, he started a jazz radio program and developed a public relations agency, finally achieving financially security.
In 1971, as a result of health problems, Owens retired and moved to Phoenix. He died of lung cancer on March 31, 1980.
(Black History Projects Page)
According to a story, Adolf Hitler intended for the 1936 games to prove to the world his "master-race theory" of Aryan superiority. But the theory was shattered, the story goes, when U.S. Negro sprinter and jumper Jesse Owens defeated the Nazi athletes. Humiliated and enraged, Hitler then showed his lack of sportsmanship by snubbing the Black champion.
The truth of what happened at the 1936 Olympic games was witnessed by 4.5 million spectators from all over the world, and it has been related numerous times since then -- but never by the controlled news media in the United States, which unvaryingly parrot the same old story whenever the occasion arises. And it is that story which the average American, whose greatest single source of information is on controlled television.
Checking out the holocaust, the story of the "gas ovens" and the "six million" may be too much for anyone but a scholar experienced in historical research, but any sports fan willing to spend two or three hours in a library reading unbiased accounts of the 1936 Berlin games can convince himself that today's version of what happened there and then is almost exactly contrary in every particular to the truth.
He can learn that the behavior of Hitler and his government exemplified the ideals not only of sportsmanship, but also of hospitality, in the view of nearly everyone who was there; that if anyone behaved in an unsportsmanlike way, it was the U.S. team, which was under orders not to extend the customary courtesy of the Olympic salute to the Tribune of Honor, where Hitler sat; that Hitler did not snub Owens, and the Black athlete himself later said, "When I passed the Chancellor he arose, waved his hand at me, and I waved back at him. I think the writers showed bad taste in criticizing the man of the hour in Germany"; and that, far from being humiliated by the results of the games, Hitler was elated, because the Germans won more gold, more silver, and more bronze medals (89 altogether, compared to 56 for the Americans) than anyone else. (In the words of historian John Toland, "The games had been an almost unqualified Nazi triumph.")
It would require more study to learn that the National Socialists never theorized that Aryans are inherently better in every type of athletic endeavor than non-Aryans; that instead they recognized that each race's peculiarities give it certain advantages and certain disadvantages in competing against other races; and that the particular form of the "master-race theory" attributed to Hitler could be an invention.
(Adapted from The Big Lie about the Berlin Olympics, Dr. William L. Pierce at library.flawlesslogic.com)

The History Place

In all, fifty-one countries decided to participate in the Berlin Games. This was the biggest number so far in the modern Olympic era. Germany had the largest Olympic team with 348 competitors. The Soviet Union had not participated in any of the Olympics thus far and was also absent from Berlin Games.
The opening ceremony of the XI Olympic Games was held on Saturday, August 1, 1936, inside the Olympic Stadium, which was jammed to capacity. Unfortunately, the Germans did not get the usual sunny 'Führer weather' which always seemed to accompany big Nazi events, but instead got a cloudy day with occasional rain showers. Hitler and his entourage, along with the Olympic officials, walked into the stadium amid a chorus of three thousand Germans singing the Deutschland über Alles national anthem followed by the Horst Wessel Lied Nazi anthem.
Over 5,000 athletes from 51 nations then marched in according to alphabetical order, with Greece leading the whole parade and the host country, Germany, at the end. But even the opening ceremony was not without controversy - the question being whether athletes would give the Nazi salute to Hitler as they passed by his reviewing stand. There was some confusion over this issue, since the Olympic salute with right arm held out sideways from the shoulder could also be mistaken for the Hitler stiff-arm salute. Most countries gave either one or the other. Austrian athletes gave the Hitler salute. French athletes thrilled the German audience by giving the Hitler salute, although some French athletes later claimed it was the Olympic salute. The Bulgarians outdid everyone by goose-stepping past the Führer. The British and Americans chose a military style 'eyes right' with no arm salute.
The flag bearer of every nation was supposed to dip their country's flag while passing by the Führer and the Olympic officials. The American flag bearer upset many Germans in the audience by ignoring this, adhering to the U.S. custom of only dipping to the President of the United States and no one else.
Hitler's opening proclamation was followed by the Olympic Hymn written by German composer Richard Strauss for the Games. The climax of the opening ceremony then occurred with arrival of the Olympic torch. It had been carried all the way from Olympia, Greece, by some three thousand separate relay runners over a twelve-day period. It was the first time in Olympic history this had been done.
Owens became an instant superstar in Berlin. German fans chanted his name whenever he entered the Olympic Stadium and mobbed him for autographs in the street. Hitler, however, never met him. On the first day of the track and field competition, Hitler had left the Olympic Stadium as rain threatened and darkness fell and missed greeting the three American medal winners in the high jump, two of whom were black. This upset Olympic officials and they advised Hitler that either he should receive all of the medal winners or none of them. Hitler decided to receive none of them from that point onward, including Owens.
(The History Place)

Boasts of Germanic 'supermen'
Hitler watches the Olympic Games with the Italian Crown Prince

Throughout the fourteen days of athletic competition Hitler maintained a deliberately low-key presence at the Olympics. This was done to please Olympic officials who did not want him to upstage the festivities. It was also a good opportunity for the Führer to appear calm and dignified among the thousands of international observers who were watching his every move. To the surprise of his top aides Hitler became genuinely interested in the various sporting matches and took great delight in every German victory.
Overall, the Berlin Olympics were a big success for the Nazis. Hundreds of international journalists acknowledged that Germany had put on the most lavish and biggest Olympics ever. Many thousands of tourists also left Germany with happy memories of the courtesy extended to them by the Nazis and the German people, as well as the fantastic facilities and precise efficiency of the whole event. The Nazis had succeeded in getting what they most wanted from hosting the Olympics - respectability.
During the closing ceremonies the president of the International Olympic Committee had issued the traditional call for the next Games, requesting "the youth of every country to assemble in four years at Tokyo, there to celebrate with us the twelfth Olympic Games."
But there would be no more Olympic Games for a dozen years. The 1940 Games originally scheduled for Tokyo and the 1944 Games were both canceled. Instead of competing with each other on athletic fields, the youth of many countries wound up killing each other on fields of battle in a new world war.
(The History Place)

© The University of Texas at Dallas

Jesse OWENS takes part in a torch relay
Raising money for the Games of the XVIII Olympiad
Tokyo 1964
Credit IOC Olympic Museum Collections
Copyright The Beijing Organizing Committee

Uploaded by moonrat42 at flickr

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