SuccessStories // James Cleveland “Jesse” Owens

James Cleveland “Jesse” Owens

Track and Field Star · (1913 - 1980)

Track and Field Star · (1913 - 1980)

  • || Achievement
  • In the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany, he became an internationally famous athlete by winning four track and field gold medals, and, as a Black man, harming Hitler's attempt to use the games as a showcase for Aryan superiority.

  • || Achievements made possible by
  • Sheer hard work and the encouragement of Charles Riley, his junior-high track coach at Fairview Junior High, who had entered him on the track team.
  • || Notable
  • Owens was segregated as a 'black American'. After his athletic career ended, he was forced to make a living by running a dry cleaning business and even worked as a gas station attendant. In 1966 he was prosecuted for tax evasion. Despite being an athlete, he was an avid smoker for 35 years, and died of lung cancer at the age of 66 in Tucson, Arizona.
  • || Born
  • Lawrence County, Alabama in the Oakville community.
  • || Education
  • Attended Ohio State University while working part time jobs to pay for his education
  • || Married
  • In 1935 he married Minnie Ruth Solomon, his sweetheart since junior high school.
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