Thursday, June 23, 2011

Friday, June 23, 1933

Gweyn and I took Sonny and Baby Doll walking. We went over to Carmines'. We saw Pauline and Fay.

James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens (1913 - 1980)

Born the seventh of eleven children in Oakville, Alabama, Jesse moved with
his family when he was nine to Cleveland, Ohio, as part of the Great Migration
of Negro families from the segregated South. His junior high coach, Charles Riley,
recognized his running talent and encouraged that talent by accommodating his practice
schedule. Owens first came to national attention in high school. He equaled the world
record of 9.4 seconds in the 100-yard (91m) dash and long-jumped 24 feet 9 1/2 inches
(7.56m) at the 1933 National High School Championship.

Known as the "Buckeye Bullet" at Ohio State University, Owens won eight
individual NCAA championships - this while going to school and working to pay
his tuition and living expenses. In 1936, Owens competed in the Olympics in Nazi
Germany and won four gold medals - blowing the Nazi propoganda about "Aryan
racial superiority" out of the water. On the first day a miffed Hitler shook hands only
with the German medalists and then left the Olympic stadium. After the Olympic
committee said he had to shake hands with all the medalists or none of them, Hitler
chose the latter.

Prohibited from amateur sporting appearances, Owens ran a dry-cleaning business
and worked as a gas-station attendant to support his family in still-segregated America
until he eventually filed for bankruptcy. He was later successfully prosecuted for tax
evasion. In 1966 he was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador by the government and
traveled the world speaking and making appearances. He died of lung cancer at his
home in Tuscon, Arizona. Jess Owens is buried in Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago.

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