Jesse Owens, Olympic Athlete

Learn more about the life of track and field star Jesse Owens.
8 |
9 |
10 |

Track and Field Athlete and Olympic Star
Birthplace: Oakville, AL

James Cleveland Owens was born in 1913 in Alabama. His parents, Emma and Henry Owens, were sharecroppers. When J.C. was eight, his parents decided to move the family north to Cleveland, OH, where he was nicknamed Jesse. At Cleveland East Technical High School, Jesse became a track star. During his senior year, he tied the world record in the 100-yard dash with a time of 9.4 seconds.

Jesse was recruited by Ohio State University. At that time, the United States was segregated and when he traveled with the track team, Jesse had to stay in "blacks only" hotels and ate in "blacks-only" restaurants.

Jesse competed at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany, where he won the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash and the broad (long) jump. He was also a key member of the 400-meter relay team that won the gold medal. Jesse was the first American track and field Olympian to win four gold medals in one day. Jesse set three world records and tied a fourth. When he returned to the U.S. he was greeted by a ticker-tape parade.

Jesse ran professionally until 1948; he set seven world records during his career. After he retired, Jesse went into the public relations industry. Owens believed that athletic competition could help solve racial and political problems, and he sponsored youth sports programs all over the United States. In 1976, President Ford awarded him the Medal of Freedom.

On March 31, 1980, Jesse Owens died at the age of 66 from complications due to cancer.

Related Resources

Black History MonthEncyclopedia of Prominent African Americans.

Your Free Gift

The Ultimate Back-to-School Guide

Teachers are always thinking about their students, but devotion to their progress shouldn’t come at the expense of your own. That’s why we’ve created an “Ultimate Back-to-School Guide” for teachers based on our nine future-ready skill domains.

What you can expect from this guide:

  • Learn 9 ways to become a better teacher by developing a positive mindset.
  • Links to dozens of free resources curated by our experts to help you both in and outside the classroom.
  • Clear steps to improve your teaching and general well-being.

Sign up for a premium membership to get your Ultimate Back-to-School Guide absolutely free!


ultimate back-to-school guide for teachers

Go Premium

Get unlimited, ad-free access to all of TeacherVision's printables and resources for as low as $2.49 per month. We have a plan for every budget. 

Select a plan

All plans include a free trial and enjoy the same features. Cancel anytime.
Learn more about Premium