In the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin, a single man captured the attention of the world, winning 4 gold medals, an Olympic first. Sixty years later, thousands gathered to honor this man with the dedication of a park named in his honor, the Jesse Owens Memorial Park. Dedicated on June 29, 1996 with the arrival of the Olympic torch on its journey to the Atlanta games, the Jesse Owens Memorial Park is a tribute to the Olympic track and field superstar.
The park located in Oakville, Alabama 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. Our 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. The park provides facilities for community use such as a basketball court, baseball/softball fields, playground and picnic tables and pavilions. The Jesse Owens Memorial Park is ideal for group tours and field trips. 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, Arizona until 1994.
The museum, located in the park, immortalizes Owens’ memory by depicting the moments that made Owens great and portraying the people who shaped him as an athlete and as a man. Glass display cases showcase rare memorabilia including programs from the 1936 Olympics, replicas of track uniforms and shoes and medals and trophies from Owens’ high school days. In addition, the museum offers visitors interactive kiosks that highlight Owens’ life and accomplishments.
The museum houses a mini-theater showing the movie Return to Berlin in which Owens narrates the 1936 Olympics. Visitors can follow the larger-than-life panel displays throughout the museum that depict Owens’ life beginning in Oakville, to his death in 1980. The panel displays highlight Owens’ athletic accomplishments as well as his humanitarian efforts.
For those interested in learning more about the life of Jesse Owens, the museum offers The Decatur Daily Resource Center. Equipped with computers with internet access and printers, the center allows visitors to do their own research of this Olympic gold medalist.