HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - “And now you picture one hundred thousand people. Sitting and standing in all of this area. And then you think in terms of what you’re to do.”
-Jesse Owens (Jesse Owens Returns to Berlin Documentary, 1969)
The year was 1936 at the Olympics in Berlin Germany. A Black American with courage, class, and determination won four Gold Medals in track and field with Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler the backdrop of the Summer Games. Jesse Owens, the son of a sharecropper and grandson of a slave became an American Icon.
Oakville, Alabama native Jesse Owens is recognized each and every day at the Jesse Owens Museum. People from all over the world pay their respects to an American hero.
“Everybody’s amazed,” Jesse Owens Museum Director Nancy Pinion said. “They don’t expect this quality of a museum in such a rural location. We have visitors from all over the world. Normally twenty-five, to thirty countries in a year. If you work here you see why Jesse Is admired, and still is for 85 years after his performance.”
Jesse Owens moved to Ohio at an early age, and later became a standout for The Ohio State University where he won eight individual NCAA championships.
Nicknamed the “Buckeye Bullitt”, Owens set three World Records and tied a fourth during a Big Ten Conference meet in 1935. Owens would later marry Minnie Ruth Soloman and father three daughters, Ruth, Marlene and Beverly. All three daughters, along with his wife, attended the grand opening of the Jesse Owens Museum when it opened its doors to the public.
“It is something to be admired,” Owens daughter Marlene Rankin said, “It’s also something that we live with as an honor, and that we pass on from generation to generation, that our kids and their kids and their kids will understand who he was and what he did in his lifetime, not only in the Olympics but what he did as a humanitarian.”
Jesse Owens became a United State Good Will Ambassador after his track and field career, continuing his legacy as an American and World hero.
Marlene Rankin said, “We expect that our family and that means every generation will honor him and will live a life that will meet with the standards that he set and the expectation that he had for family,” Rankin added.
“Every man wanted to become a winner. And the person that won this race, was given the title of the world’s fastest human being.”
- Jesse Owens (Jesse Owens Returns to Berlin Documentary, 1969)