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The Life and Legacy of Jesse Owens

  • Subject: Life
  • Category: Sports
  • Essay Topic: Jesse Owens
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 935
  • Published: 09 Jun 2021
  • Downloads: 56
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James Charles Owens, famously known as Jesse Owens did not live an easy life. Born in Oakville, Alabama, on September 12, 1913, he was the son of a sharecropper and a farmer who rented land. During his early years Jesse was small, too frail to help his father and siblings in the field. In 1921, the Owens family moved to Ohio for better work opportunities and increase their quality of life. There was little improvement in work, but Jesse was able to enter into a public school, where a teacher accidentally wrote down Jesse instead of J.C. due to his heavy southern accent. From that day on he carried the name Jesse.

In fifth grade an athletic supervisor asked Jesse to come out for the track team that spring. From a scrawny little boy, Jesse grew and developed into a strong runner. By the time he was a junior in high school he was breaking records. In 1933, at the National Interscholastic Championship, he won the 100-yard dash, the 200-yard dash and the broad jump. His performance at nationals grabbed attention from colleges all over the country. Having his heart set on Ohio State University he couldn’t leave his family. With his family struggling to make ends meet and his young wife, Jesse only dreamed of going to college, but when the university offered his father a job, Jesse immediately accepted Ohio States offer.

Being an African American during this time was hard, Jesse experienced lots of racism on campus from other students and other athletes. Jesse didn’t let these hurtful comments get to him he merely used it as fuel to help push him to become a better athlete.

Giving the world a preview of what the 1936 Olympics would be like, while at the Big Ten Championships in 1935 Jesse Owens made history. In just a span of 45 minutes, Jesse accomplished what many be the greatest athletic fleet. He broke three world records and tied another. His success at the Big Ten Championship gave him the extra confidence he needed to excel at the highest level. Jesse entered in the 1936 Olympics, in Nazi Germany.

Like many other elite African American athletes, who grew up in unfair conditions, Jesse considered the moral stance against Germany to be hypocritical and wasn’t going to give up a chance to shine on a global stage.

Cruising to an easy win in the 100- yard dash and highly publicized victory over Luz Long in the long jump on day one, Owens wasn’t done yet. His next event would take place a few days later where he became the Olympic champ in the 200 with a new world record and a third Olympic gold medal. But it didn’t stop there, as if three gold medals weren’t enough for this young man, he was the first leg in the men’s 4×100 relay, where they went to win the gold medal. At this moment Jesse Owens became the first American man of any race to win four Olympic gold medals in a single Olympics. His debut at the 1936 Olympics was not only a win for America but it was a even larger win for African Americans. Being the face of track and field in a time of high segregation, high level officials in America found this to be a slap in the face. Although African Americans were still fighting for equal rights at that time, it was still a step in the right direction for them.

Despite Hitler and his efforts to showcase his supremacy of the Aryan race and the power of his regiment, Jesse Owens rose above all and became arguably one of the best athletes to ever walk this Earth. Not only did Jesse defy all the odds he was against on a national level, but a global level.

The success Owen had on the track was a fraction of what he did for the sport of track and field. In his post-Olympic days, like many great athletes, Owens became an inspirational speaker. He went around to professional organizations, youth groups, black history programs, high schools, colleges, and churches. Sharing his story with many people helped motivate those who wanted to achieve a dream. Being in the same shows as many of the people he talked to he was able to relate to them. Being a from a poor family, an African American male in Jim Crow America he was able to share his struggles and how he overcame adversity in a time of hardship.

After the high of his 1936 Olympic performance died down, Jesse became a normal man. He worked odd jobs to help support his family in a time of need but he also made time for the youth groups in his local area. He knew what it was like to be in those shoes and he wanted to give young kids an opportunity he never got. All the kids he worked with came from poverty but to keep the kids off the streets he wanted to give back to his community. He became a local hero.

It doesn’t stop there for him, after dying in 1980 due to lung cancer, his family created a foundation in his honor. This foundation is a nonprofit organization that helps promote youths to their fullest potential. To continue the legacy of Jesse Owens, this organization has come up with the Ruth and Jesse Owens Scholarship. Partnering with Ohio State, scholarship helps graduating seniors who represent the values Jesse Owens held. This organization helps many kids to gain access to better resources, give them better opportunities no matter race, gender, national origin or racial beliefs. 

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The Life And Legacy Of Jesse Owens. (2021, Jun 09). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 30, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-life-and-legacy-of-jesse-owens/
“The Life And Legacy Of Jesse Owens.” GradesFixer, 09 Jun. 2021, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-life-and-legacy-of-jesse-owens/
The Life And Legacy Of Jesse Owens. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-life-and-legacy-of-jesse-owens/> [Accessed 30 Sept. 2022].
The Life And Legacy Of Jesse Owens [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Jun 09 [cited 2022 Sept 30]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-life-and-legacy-of-jesse-owens/
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