Jesse Owens

Was one of the fastest men in the world


Can you imagine being an African-American athlete in 1932, and having very little expected of you? This was what life was like for Jesse Owens. Jesse later went on to win many awards in track and field. He is sometimes called, “the fastest man in the world.”

Early childhood

Jesse Owens was born on September 12, 1913 in Oakville, Alabama. He was the son of a sharecropper and also a grandson of slaves. His name at birth was James Cleveland Owens. He was frail as a boy and had bronchial congestion and pneumonia. He also had a “bump” on his chest at age five which his mother had to remove. He had no pain medication at all. At age seven, J.C had to start picking cotton in the fields. He attended a one room school house, but was not able to go every day. When he was 9, his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio. J.C gotta go to a harder school and the teachers were stricter. On the first day of his new school the teacher was asking people for their names. When it was J.C’s turn, he said very fast “J.C” but the teacher had misunderstood him and thought he said “Jesse” and she said back “Jesse, is that your name?”, and since J.C was shy he agreed that his name was Jesse. When Jesse was in high school he was known as a sprinter (because he was quite fast). He set records for the 100 and 220 yard dash. Jesse would’ve never guessed that he would become a world class athlete.


When Jesse attended Ohio University, he became know as the “Buckeye Bullet” because he was so fast at running. He did not find his classes easy at all, but he enjoyed field and track. Jesse was unstoppable at the Big Ten Conference in Ann Arbor. He won 42 events out of 42 events. He went to the 1936 Olympics and he got four gold medals and broke a world record. Adolf Hitler was furious that the Americans brought African American athletes to the Olympics. Jesse was most dominant athlete in the whole Olympics that year. He married a woman named Ruth and had three daughters. Later in his life, he spent a lot of time giving speeches and trying to inspire people.

Major Accomplishments.

Jesse Owens had many brilliant accomplishments. He was the highest rank of all athletes. In 1976, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom ,the highest award given to a civilian. Jesse died in March 31 1980 from lung cancer. His 3 daughters started a foundation called the Jesse Owens foundation to help young people with potential. 10 years after Jesse’s death he received the congressional gold medal. He was an amazing role model to young children and was good at convincing the children that they could follow their dreams.

Jesse Owens had spectacular life. He broke many world records as an athlete. He was also a very famous Olympiad. Jesse did not give up even though he was a poor black boy who did not have much time in school. He was a convincing speaker to all.


If Jesse Owens had not persevered, the world would not be the same. He set records ,he dominated the big ten ,and he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His greatest accomplishment was he was the first black american athlete to get four gold medals and he changed peoples minds about black african americans.



Gigliotti, Jim. Jesse Owens. New York: Sterling Publishing Company, 2010. About Jesse Owens Retrieved from WWW 03/18/2013

Schwartz L.Owens Pierced a Myth Retrieved from WWW 03/18/2013


Gigliotti, J (2010) Jesse Owens New York: Gold Medal Hero. Sterling Publishing company, 2010

Jesse Owens Wins 100m Olympic Gold in front of Hitler at 1936 Olympics
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