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01 Jan 1970 |

jesse owen

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JESEE OWENS

By Ras Abimelech

Early life and education
Owens was the youngest of ten children, three girls and seven boys, born to Henry Cleveland Owens and Mary Emma Fitzgerald in Oakville,

jesse1aAlabama on September 12, 1913. J.C., as he was called, was nine years old when the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio for better opportunities, as part of the Great Migration, when 1.5 million African Americans left the segregated South.
When his new teacher asked his name (to enter in her roll book), he said “J.C.”, but because of his strong Southern accent, she thought he said “Jesse”. The name took, and he was known as Jesse Owens for the rest of his life.
As a boy and youth, Owens took different jobs in his spare time: he delivered groceries, loaded freight cars and worked in a shoe repair shop while his father and older brother worked at a steel mill.
During this period, Owens realized that he had a passion for running.
Owens first came to national attention when he was a student of East Technical High School in Cleveland; he equalled the world record of 9.4 seconds in the 100-yard (91 m) dash and long-jumped 24 feet 9 1?2 inches (7.56 metres) at the 1933 National High School Championship in Chicago.
Owens’s greatest achievement came in a span of 45 minutes on May 25, 1935, during the Big Ten meet at Ferry Field in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he set three world records and tied a fourth. He equalled the world record for the 100 yard dash (9.4 seconds); and set world records in the long jump (26 ft 8 1/4 in or 8.13 m, a world record that would last 25 years); 220-yard (201.2 m) sprint (20.3 seconds); and 220-yard (201.2m) low hurdles (22.6 seconds, becoming the first to break 23 seconds).

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Berlin Olympics
Owens performing the long jump at the Olympics.
In 1936, Owens arrived in Berlin to compete for the United States in the Summer Olympics. Adolf Hitler was using the games to show the world a resurgent Nazi Germany. He and other government officials had high hopes that German athletes would dominate the games with victories (the German athletes achieved a “top of the table” medal haul). Meanwhile, Nazi propaganda promoted concepts of “Aryan racial superiority” and depicted ethnic Africans as inferior.

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James Cleveland “Jesse” Owens (September 12, 1913 – March 31, 1980) was an American track and field athlete and four-time Olympic gold medallist. Owens specialized in the sprints and the long jump and was recognized in his lifetime as “perhaps the greatest and most famous athlete in track and field history”.
His achievement of setting three world records and tying another in less than an hour at the 1935 Big Ten track meet has been called “the greatest 45 minutes ever in sport” and has never been equalled. At the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany, Owens won international fame with four gold medals: 100 meters, 200 meters, long jump, and 4×100 meter relay.

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Gold 1936 Berlin 100 m
Gold 1936 Berlin 200 m
Gold 1936 Berlin 4×100 m relay
Gold 1936 Berlin Long jump
On August 3, he won the 100m sprint with a time of 10.3s, defeating teammate friend Ralph Metcalfe by a tenth of a second.

On August 4, he won the long jump with a leap of 26 ft 5 inches.
(later crediting his achievement to the technical advice he received from Luz Long, the German competitor whom he defeated).
On August 5, he won the 200m sprint with a time of 20.7s, defeating Mack Robinson (the older brother of Jackie Robinson).
On August 9, Owens won his fourth gold medal in the 4×100 sprint relay and set a world record of 39.8s in the event.

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This performance was not equalled until Carl Lewis won gold medals in the same events at the Soviet boycotted 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
The long-jump victory is documented, along with many other 1936 events, in the 1938 film Olympia by Leni Riefenstahl. On the first day of competition, Hitler shook hands only with the German victors and then left the stadium. Olympic committee officials insisted Hitler greet every medallist or none at all. Hitler opted for the latter and skipped all further medal presentations.
Historians have noted that Hitler may have left the games at this time due to looming rain clouds which may have postponed the games. This happened well before Owens was to compete, but has largely come to be believed to be the “snub” On reports that Hitler had deliberately avoided acknowledging his victories, and had refused to shake his hand, Owens said at the time. He was the most successful athlete at the games and as such has been credited with “single-handedly crushing Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy.” Blonde haired, blue eye fart.

Owens was allowed to travel with and stay in the same hotels in Germany as whites, while at the time African Americans in many parts of the United States had to stay in segregated hotels while traveling. The Jesse Owens Award, USA Track and Field’s highest accolade for the year’s best track and field athlete, is named after him, and he was ranked by ESPN as the sixth greatest North American athlete of the twentieth century and the highest-ranked in his sport. Owens, who joined the Republican Party after returning from Europe, was paid to campaign for African American votes for Republican presidential nominee Alf Landon in the 1936 presidential election.

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Owens said,

” Hitler did not snub me – it was the president who snubbed me. The president did not even send me a telegram.”

Hitler sent Owens a commemorative inscribed cabinet photograph of himself.  Honours were not bestowed upon Jesse Owens by either president Franklin D Roosevelt or his successor Harry S Truman during their terms. In 1955, President Dwight Eisenhower ( himself  an athlete of note ) honoured Owens by naming him an  ” Ambassador of sports. ”

President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) never invited Jesse Owens to the White House following his triumphs at the Olympics games.

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Personal life

jesse2aOwens and Minnie Ruth Solomon met at Fairmount Junior High School in Cleveland when he was 15 years old and she was 13 years old. They dated steadily through high school. Ruth gave birth to their first daughter, Gloria, in 1932. They married in 1935 and had two more daughters together: Marlene, born in 1939, and Beverly, born in 1940. They remained married until his death.
Owens, a pack-a-day cigarette smoker for 35 years, had been hospitalized with an extremely aggressive and drug-resistant type of lung cancer on and off beginning in December 1979. He died in Tucson, Arizona, on March 31, 1980, with his wife and other family members at his bedside. He is buried in Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago.

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