Owens, Jesse (James)
(1913-1980)
   The African American champion athlete was born James Owens in Alabama, but his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, when he was young. After studying at a local high school, he went to Ohio State University, where he quickly excelled in track and field. Having just missed qualifying for the 1932 Olympics, he set three new world records and equaled another in Ann Arbor, Michigan, before competing in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. There, in front of the German leader Adolf Hitler, Owens shattered the Nazi myth of Aryan supremacy when he won four gold medals, breaking Olympic records in the 100-meter race, 200-meter race, long jump, and the 400-meter relay. Hitler left the stadium before the presentations took place. African Americans also won gold medals in the 800-meter race (John Woodruff), 400-meter race (Archie Williams), and high jump (Cornelius Johnson).
   After Berlin, Owens decided to return to the United States to take up commercial offers rather than tour Europe with the rest of the American team, and as a result he was banned from competing in amateur athletics by the American Athletics Union. The commercial opportunities involved competing against other sportspeople, like Joe Louis, or racing horses or motor bikes. Owens’s venture into the dry cleaning business ended in bankruptcy, and he was employed for some time in limited public relations roles. In the mid-1950s, he was employed by the State Department and sent as a goodwill ambassador to a number of countries in Asia, but in the 1960s he was prosecuted and fined for tax evasion. Owens did not take any part in the civil rights protests of the period and was highly critical of the athletes who adopted the black power pose at the 1968 Mexico Olympics. In the 1970s, Owens’s career improved, and he became a successful spokesman for the Ford Motor Company and American Express. In 1976, he was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Gerald Ford; after his death, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . . 2015.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Owens, Jesse — orig. James Cleveland Owens born Sept. 12, 1913, Oakville, Ala., U.S. died March 31, 1980, Phoenix, Ariz. U.S. track and field athlete. At Ohio State University in 1935, he broke or equaled four world track records in one day, setting a new long… …   Universalium

  • Owens, Jesse — orig. James Cleveland Owens (12 sep. 1913, Oakville, Ala., EE.UU.–31 mar. 1980, Phoenix, Ariz.). Atleta estadounidense. En 1935, mientras competía por la Universidad del estado de Ohio, quebró o igualó cuatro récords mundiales de atletismo en un… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Jesse — /jes ee/, n. 1. the father of David. I Sam. 16. 2. a male given name: from a Hebrew word meaning God exists. * * * (as used in expressions) Jackson Jesse Louis Jesse Louis Burns Owens Jesse James Jesse and James Frank Jesse Woodson James and… …   Universalium

  • Jesse Owens — in 1936 Personal information Full name James Cleveland Owens Nationality American Born September 12 …   Wikipedia

  • Jesse Owens — al inicio de la carrera de 200 metros lisos donde rompió el récord mundial en las Olimpiadas de Berlín. James Cleveland Jesse Owens (Oakville, 12 de septiembre de 1913 Tucsón, 31 de marzo de 1980) fue un popular atleta estadounidense de origen… …   Wikipedia Español

  • James Hines — …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Jesse — ist ein Vorname und Familienname. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Herkunft und Bedeutung 2 Bekannte Namensträger 2.1 Vorname 2.2 Familienname …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Jesse Owens — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Owens. Jesse Owens …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Jesse Owens — noun United States athlete and Black American whose success in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin outraged Hitler (1913 1980) • Syn: ↑Owens, ↑James Cleveland Owens • Instance Hypernyms: ↑athlete, ↑jock * * * Jesse Owens …   Useful english dictionary

  • Jesse — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Jesse peut faire référence à : Jesse, le mot anglais pour Jessé. Personnalités Jesse est un prénom notamment porté par : Jesse Eisenberg, un… …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”