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Jesse Owens

Jesse Owens was born on September 12, 1913, in a small town in Alabama.  He was the son of a sharecropper and the grandson of a slave.  His family decided to move up North to get away from the unequal South, to Cleveland, Ohio.  After moving to Cleveland, Jesse found something that would eventually make him famous.  At a high school in Cleveland, he joined the track team.  He went on to win three Ohio state championships.  During his tenure at the high school, he went on to break and set many records that were unheard of at the time.  Jesse then attended the Ohio State University where he also set and broke many collegiate records.  Jesse’s biggest accomplishment was winning four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics in 1936, in front of the most dangerous and hated man, Adolf Hitler.  Before he passed away in 1980, due to lung cancer, Jesse made a huge impact on the culture and community of many American societies.

Jesse’s fame not only came from his achievements in track and field, but as to how he carried himself during and after winning those gold medals.  In America fight between blacks and whites and the looming threat of another World War, Jesse’s domination in Berlin angered Adolf Hitler because Jesse was an African American, and a black American is a thing that Hitler despised the most.  After coming home to America, Jesse then realized that the United States was not much different because of racial segregation.  He then became an activist about education, and the importance living the American dream of social mobility.  He was also a part of the U.S. Department of State, where he promoted peace between the white and blacks.

Jesse’s impact on Chicago came with his willingness to speak out for the African American community in fighting racism.  He served as director of the Illinois State Athletic Commission, the Chicago Boys Club, and the Illinois Youth Commission.  As a result of the impact he has had on Chicago and the community, the Chicago Park District decided to name a 17.23-acre park after him, Owens Park, in 1980.  Additionally, the Chicago Public Schools Administration named an elementary school, but it was closed down in the summer of 2013.  But due to many protests and petitions, Jesse Owen’s name will be put back as the name of the school.



Works Consulted


“Biography.” N.p., n.d. Web. 29 June 2014.

“Chicago Park District.” Owens Park. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 July 2014.

“CPS to Restore Jesse Owens’ Name to Elementary School.” Chicago Tribune. N.p., 24 Oct. 2013. Web. 01 July 2014.

Edmonds, Anthony O. “Review: Jesse Owens: An American Life.” The American Historical Review 92.4 (1987): 1053. JSTOR. Web. 01 July 2014. <>.

George, Daniel R. “Handing Down Memories of Jesse Owens.” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 59.10 (2011): 1960-961. Web


–Stephan Falbo

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