28 Days of Black History Month: Jesse Owens


28 Days of Black History Month (February 13th)

James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens (September 12, 1913 – March 31, 1980)

James Cleveland “Jesse” Owens (September 12, 1913 – March 31, 1980)

Story:

Jesse Owens was a Track & Field Star Born on September 12th, 1913 in Oakville, Alabama. Jesse Owens was a stellar Athlete. His greatest accomplishment would come at the 1936 Olympic games. The games of the 11th Olympiad held in Berlin, GermanyJesse attended Ohio State University and was no stranger to Racism and Segregation. He could not live on campus, he couldn’t eat in certain restaurants and had to stay in “Black Only” hotels when traveling. Even though he excelled in Track & Field becoming the 1st man to win 8 Consecutive NCAA Championships in 1935 & 1936, He wasn’t awarded a Scholarship. He paid for school himself by working odd jobs & shoe store during after school.

Jesse set the world on fire with his 4 Gold medal performances at the Olympic games. Most notably on August 3rd, 4th & 5th (1936) in the following events for Long jump, 100m, 200m & team 4×100 Relay. This was a big deal since the games were being held in Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler was present to see him obliterate the competition. Hitler’s comments were something along the lines that Black Athletes weren’t on par with White Athletes. Jesse proved him wrong x’s 4. Jesse returned home to America as a hero, But that was short lived. Any man that performed at that level would be constantly serenaded by his country, but not in America. We were dealing with our own discrimination, therefor the victories of this African American Athlete were appreciated in only some parts of the country.

Before his death in 1980, struggling to earn a living since he was ridiculed for trying to capitalize off of his success he was stripped of his amateur status. This lead to Jesse working in Gas stations and other low paying jobs. In 1966 he was prosecuted for tax evasion, and had to file for Bankruptcy. Jesse Owens passed away on March 31st, 1980 due to lung Cancer (he was a heavy smoker).

Editor’s Note:

A Black Fist in the air goes out to you Jesse Owens, We salute you. You became the inspiration for millions of youth, many of whom weren’t even alive when you “Did Your Thing”#Thankyou

#TellMeHowiLookNow

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