"Find the good. It's all around you. Find it. Showcase it, and you'll start believing it". Those were the famous words of Jesse Owens when he arrived back from his trip to the Berlin Olympiad. The "Buckeye Bullet" grew up in a small farm in Oakville, Alabama with six brothers and sisters. Having grown up on a farm, he learned responsibility, humility, and perseverance at a young age. Jesse Owens is inspirational not because he accomplished great things, but because he persevered through the effects of racism, was courageous through the challenges he faced, and was honored by his friends, family, and fans.
Jesse attended East Technical High School where he began to make a name for himself. He set records at his high school for 100 and 200-yards sprints along with long jump, even though in high school he went through racism and was stereotyped by his peers, but with perseverance he was able to get through it. He attended college at Ohio State University, where he continued to grow as an athlete. It was there where the nickname "Buckeye Bullet" was coined because of his extraordinary speed. After healing from a tailbone injury he competed at the Big Ten Championships, where he tied the world record for 100-yard dash. He also made world records for long jump, 220-yard dash, and 220-yard low hurdles. Later he went on to compete in 45 events his junior year including the four at the Big 10 Championships, four in the NCAA championships, two in the AAU Championships, and four in the Olympic trials, and he won every event.
Ever since his winning streak in high school he was able to get himself a great deal of recognition from other professional athletes, which helped him train and make it to the Olympics. Once he made the U.S. trials and went to Berlin he was faced with even more racism and discrimination from the Germans, but once he started winning, the crowd started to take a liking to him and cheered whenever he walked onto the track. This made Hitler furious, but with courage, Jesse drove on, regardless of what was said about him.
After the Olympics, Jesse retired and became an inspirational speaker to encourage others that they could also make something of themselves. Jesse Owens was presented with many medals and awards after the Olympics including the Living Legend Award in 1976, Medal of Freedom in 1979, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1990 by president George H.W. Bush. Jesse, being a pack a day smoker, died on March 31, 1980 from lung cancer in Tucson, Arizona. The Jesse Owens Foundation continues to carry on his legacy by helping gifted young men and women get financial support in athletics.
Gandhi once said, "Be the change you want to see in the world". Jesse Owens was that change. Throughout all his life he impacted the people around him and throughout the world. In a time where people did not expect people of color to succeed, he did the impossible. Jesse Owens is inspirational not because he accomplished great things, but because he preserved through the effects of racism, was courageous through the challenges he faced, and was honored by his friends, family, and fans.
Page created on 10/10/2012 12:00:00 AM
Last edited 10/10/2012 12:00:00 AM