Sixty years later, thousands gathered, along with Jesse’s family, to honor Owens with the dedication of a park and museum bearing his name. On June 29, 1996 with the arrival of the Olympic torch on its journey to the Atlanta games, the Jesse Owens Memorial Park and Museum, which only 4 years earlier started with a dream, became a reality. This was a long-overdue tribute to the Olympic track and field superstar.
The park located in Oakville, Alabama, the home of Jesse’s birth, showcases several memorials for Owens including a museum, statue, 1936 torch replica, birth home replica and an oak tree of the same variety as Owens’ gold medal tree.
Ruth Owens, Jesse’s wife, attended the park dedication and unveiled the 18-foot bronze statue of Jesse. Thrilled with the statue she said, “I’ve seen a lot of statues of Jesse, but his one is the best. It looks just like him.” Afterwards Ruth lit the eternal flame on the 1936 torch replica.
JOMP’s goal is to honor the life and accomplishments of this remarkable man and to mirror Owens’ dedication to America’s youth by investing in the community. Park Directors and Board members are hopeful that one day funding will become available to complete the final phase of park development, the construction of an Olympic size track. This addition would make it possible to sponsor annual youth competition modeled after the ARCO/Jesse Owens games held in Phoenix until 1994.