The year: 1936. The place: Munich
. The event: The Olympic Games
. Adolf Hitler
, führer of Germany, broadcasts the opening of the games on television as a mark of German superiority
. These games are to provide the world with convincing evidence of Aryan
The thorn in Hitler's side? James Cleveland Owens, a black track-and-field athlete from Alabama. Owens dominates the Olympics, winning four gold medals and breaking or tying four world records... all in one day... ruining Hitler's grand plan...
One of the greatest athletes of all time, Jesse Owens was born in Oakville, Alabama on September 12, 1913. His family moved to Ohio in search of prosperity when he was eight, and Jesse enrolled in public school. At Cleveland East Technical School, Jesse became a star. As a high school senior he tied the world record for the 100-yard dash, running it in just 9.4 seconds.
A highly recruited athlete, Owens attended Ohio State, where he broke three world records and tied a fourth in a span of forty-five minutes on May 25, 1935... with a bad back. The next year Owens ran in the Olympics, making history by winning four medals in a day.
After the Olympics, Owens ran professionally and became a public speaker in order to provide for his family. In 1976, Jesse Owens was awarded the Medal of Freedom, the highest honor that can be awarded to a civilian of the United States.
Four years later, on March 31, the American legend died from complications due to cancer, at the age of 66. He is survived by his widow, Ruth, and his daughter, Marlene.