Jesse Owens: The Man Who Embarrassed Hitler

Happy birthday to one of the greatest and most important athletes of all time, Jesse Owens. He was born on this date in 1913.

Mr. Owens was the grandson of a slave. He grew up in rural Alabama, and by the age of seven was picking 100 lbs of cotton a day.His four gold medals at the 1936 olympics in Berlin beautifully shot a hole into Adolph Hitler’s premise of aryan superiority right in front of him. It was one of the greatest moments in sports history.

Unfortunately, when he returned to America he was still not allowed to ride on the front of the bus. He was not offered commercial endorsements or lucrative jobs after the olympics. He had to perform gimmicks like racing against horses to make money. At one point, he would work as a gas station attendant.

At the conclusion of the olympics, President Roosevelt invited all of the athletes who won gold medals to the white house for dinner, except for the black ones. One of the greatest American olympians of all time wasn’t allowed to dine with it’s President because of the color of the skin he was born with.

Owens was not recognized by an American President until Gerald Ford did it in 1975. When he died in 1980, President Carter said, “Perhaps no athlete better symbolized the human struggle against tyranny, poverty and racial bigotry.”


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