On this day in Alabama history: Jesse Owens was born

On this day in Alabama history: Jesse Owens was born
1936 U.S. Olympic 4x100 meter relay team. Jesse Owens (left), Ralph Metcalfe (second left), Foy Draper (second right) and Frank Wykoff (right). The U.S. won the gold in this event. (IOC Olympic Museum, Switzerland, Wikipedia)

Sept. 12, 1913

James Cleveland “Jesse” Owens was born Sept. 12, 1913, in Oakville, Alabama, an unincorporated community in Lawrence County. He was the youngest of 10 children born to sharecroppers who moved to Ohio for better opportunities when Owens was 9 years old. Owens came to national attention setting world records at a Cleveland high school before attending Ohio State University, where he was affectionately called the “Buckeye Bullet.” He would go on to achieve international fame at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, winning four gold medals (100 meters, 200 meters, long jump and 4×100 relay) and was recognized as the most famous athlete in track and field history during his lifetime. Owens died in 1980 at age 66 and is buried in Chicago.

Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

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