Olympic Athlete, Track and Field Star

   Education: East Technical High School and Ohio State University

   Born: Oakville, Alabama on September 12, 1913

   Died: Tucson, Arizona on March 31, 1980

   Originally: James Cleveland Owens

   Nickname: “The Buckeye Bullet” and “J.C.”

   AKA: James Owens

   Spouse: Minnie Ruth Solomon (m 1935 – 1980)

   Movies: Olympia, The Negro Soldier


Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 12.40.41 PM

The acclaimed historian William Cronon once wrote that “the work we do is the predictable result of our own experiences and passions, but it is no less surely the unpredictable result of being at the right place at the right time.” This observation holds true for me. I grew up with the Jesse Owens Memorial Run. My parents still display a photograph of me crossing the finish line at the first two-mile “fun run,” a few months shy of my sixth birthday, and I have a lasting childhood memory of my first encounter with the Jesse Owens monument in Oakville, Alabama.

I am grateful that Karen Cox, editor of Destination Dixie, believed that the commemoration of Jesse Owens in Lawrence County was a story worth sharing. It appears as the second chapter within a collection of essays about southern history and tourism. The book offers a wide range of topics and includes chapters about cemeteries in New Orleans, slavery in Charleston, and Elvis Presley’s birthplace in Tupelo. Readers interested in Alabama history will also learn about the Confederate iron furnaces in Calhoun County and “selling the civil rights movement” in Selma.

-Barclay Key, Contributing Author, Destination Dixie: Tourism and Southern History

 
Jesse Owens’ Quotes

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.
~Jesse Owens

A lifetime of training for just ten seconds.
~Jesse Owens

Friendships born on the field of athletic strife are the real gold of competition. Awards become corroded, friends gather no dust.
~Jesse Owens

The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself – the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us – that’s where it’s at.
~Jesse Owens

Although I wasn’t invited to shake hands with Hitler, I wasn’t invited to the White House to shake hands with the President either.
~Jesse Owens

One chance is all you need.
~Jesse Owens

Find the good. It’s all around you. Find it, showcase it and you’ll start believing in it.
~Jesse Owens

Life doesn’t give you all the practice races you need.
~Jesse Owens

For a time, at least, I was the most famous person in the entire world.
~Jesse Owens

The only bond worth anything between human beings is their humanness.
~Jesse Owens

Awards become corroded, friends gather no dust.
~Jesse Owens

I let my feet spend as little time on the ground as possible. From the air, fast down, and from the ground, fast up.
~Jesse Owens

If you don’t try to win you might as well hold the Olympics in somebody’s back yard.
~Jesse Owens

I always loved running…it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.
~Jesse Owens

Fun Facts

  • Jesse Owens married his high school sweetheart and had three daughters.
  • Jesse Owens’ real name is James Cleveland Owens. After moving to Ohio as a young boy, he was asked by a teacher for his name to which he replied, “J.C.” Because of his thick southern accent his teacher mistakenly thought he said “Jesse.” Jesse was shy and never corrected the teacher, therefore forever being known as Jesse Owens.
  • Jesse Owens had 10 other brothers and sisters.
  • Jesse Owens was born in 1913 in Alabama. When he was eight, his family moved to Ohio.
  • Owens went to Ohio State University, a segregated school, where he had to endure racial discrimination and prejudice.
  • Jesse Owens proved to the world during the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany that any individual could achieve greatness, regardless of race, religion or national origin.
  • Owens was a great speaker and traveled around the world giving speeches on religion, dedication and loyalty.
  • Jesse Owens devoted much of his time to youth sports programs for underprivileged children.
  • Jesse Owens led the way for other African American athletes.


In Tribute Around the World

Jesse Owens Statue at Fort Huntington Park: Cleveland, Ohio
Jesse Owens Community Regional Park: Los Angeles, California
Owens Park: Chicago, Illinois
Jesse Owens Park: Tucson, Arizona
Jesse Owens West Tennis Center: Ohio State, Columbus, Ohio
Jesse Owens Recreation Center: Ohio State, Columbus, Ohio
Jesse Owens Playground: Brooklyn, New York
Jesse Owens Urgent Care: Phoenix, Arizona
Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium: Ohio State, Columbus, Ohio
Jesse Owens Community Academy: Chicago, Illinois
Jesse Owens Memorial Athletic Complex: Dallas, Texas
Jesse Owens Elementary School: Gueydan, Louisiana
Jesse Owens Park Fieldhouse: Chicago, Illinois
Jesse Owens Avenue: Birmingham, Alabama
Jesse Owens Stadium: California State University, Los Angeles, California
Jesse Owens Playground: Harahan, Louisiana
Jesse Owens Drive: Austin, Texas
Harvey Rice/Jesse Owens School: Cleveland, Ohio
Jesse-Owens-Allee, Berlin, Germany
Jesse-Owens-Straße, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Jesse-Owens-Straße, Augsburg, Schwaben, Bayern, Germany
Jesse-Owens-Straße, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
Jesse Owens Pkwy: Phoenix, Arizona
Rue Jesse Owens, La Possession, Saint-Paul, Reunion (off the coast of Africa, near Madagascar)
Jesse Owens, Apodaca, Nuevo León, Mexico