James Cleveland (Jesse) Owens was born in Oakville, Alabama.
There is a memorial park there, dedicated to his memory.
How to get there:
The park is located just off 157 at:
7019 County Road 203
What to expect:
In the 20-acre park, there is a replica of the house he was born in and a museum that outlines his life through school, university, the Olympics and beyond. There is also a 14.5-foot statue of Owens.
Picnic tables, playground, restrooms, baseball field, basketball court
A little about Jesse Owens:
He was born September 12, 1913 in north Alabama to a sharecropper family, the 7th of 11 children. The family moved to Cleveland, Ohio when he was 9 and was given the name ‘Jesse’ by a teacher that did not understand him when he said his name was J.C.
Her went on to attend the Ohio State University and graduated after breaking many track records. He left the following year for a Hitler-run Germany to participate in the 1936 Olympics. He won 4 gold medals.
After the Olympics, he arrived back in the U.S. for a ticker-tape parade in New York City-then had to ride the service elevator to his own award dinner because he was a black man.
He worked with underprivileged children for the rest of his life, receiving numerous awards and even having streets in several countries named after him.
He died at age 66 in 1980 of lung cancer. He smoked a pack a day for the pervious 35 years.
Why you should learn more about him:
Jesse Owens has an amazing legacy. He rose above prejudices in his own country to go on to college in a time when few black people got the chance to-especially children of sharecroppers. He won 4 gold-medals in an Aryan nation held under the thumb of a man who thought and taught that skin color was more important than the individual in that skin.
He broke through social, racial and economic barriers and made waves that last until this day. He has been named the 3rd most influential sportsman in history and his college feat of matching or breaking 4 track records in 45 minutes has been heralded the most impressive athletic achievement since 1850.
He said: I always loved running - it
was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could
go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt
like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage
of your lungs.
We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.