Jesse Owens

Topics: 1936 Summer Olympics, Jesse Owens, Gold medal Pages: 9 (3786 words) Published: May 2, 2011
Jesse Owens: The Silent Movement
When America typically thinks about black athletes, they think of the great ones like Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, and others in that category. One athlete that is over looked is the great Jesse Owens. It might be that he did not participate in a popular sport like basketball, football or baseball, but he was an exceptionally fast on the track and overcame racial adversity. Jesse Owens impacted athletic world in a positive way throughout his life. From his time at Ohio State to the Olympics the very next year, he was a positive role model and a humble human being when he won. Jesse Owens came from small town folks and that made him who he was during his lifetime in having a good set of core values. With the help of role models throughout Jesse Owens’s life, he showed restraint in not acting out against the racial prejudice, while still dominating the track and field world in the 1930’s.

The childhood of Jesse Owens made him to be the man he was during his college career due to how little Jesse had. Owens was born on September 12, 1913 of Henry and Emma Owens in the little town of Oakville, Alabama. Little did they know that their newborn baby would become one of the greatest track and field athletes to walk the face of the earth. Owens was a sick child and suffered from chronic bronchial congestion because his family was poor and could not properly feed everyone in the family, and they had a lack of heat in the winter. Aside from all the physical problems Owens faced, the racial prejudice that Jesse was born into took a mental toll on him. All of the poverty and destruction that Owens saw made him appreciate and become sensitive to adult success and how important that would become in his life. Later in life Owens would always show a smile when he won and agreed with what the newspapers said about him. Owens once said to an interviewer, “I try awfully hard for people to like me,” This shows that his childhood experiences positively reinforced his view on success and what it represents to him in life. His early years in Alabama laid the foundation for his success later in life. Young male adolescences are susceptible to a role model or mentor in their life that will immensely impact them on who they grow up to be. Years later Owens moved on to Fairmount Junior High School where it is argued that his track career started and this is where Owens met Charles Riley. Riley was the gym teacher at Owens’s school and Jesse looked up to Riley as a father figure. People would say things about Riley being white and coaching a black teenager but neither Owens nor Riley saw race, they only saw each other as a team on the track. They began to have track practice every morning before school for an hour and by the eighth grade Jesse was participating in junior high track meets. At first Owens’s running form was strained and he had very bad facial expressions due to lack of proper training. Riley coached him to be more fluid and that determination came from the inside of oneself and not from the public around him. This was a major turning point in the track and field career of Owens. Owens learned not to see color at an early age and Charles Riley was the main contributor to that and this shaped Owens into the man that he was.

Owens was soon turning into a young man and he was making vast improvements in his speed. Riley timed Owens in the 100 yard dash and he clocked Owens in eleven seconds flat. He did not believe what the watch was telling him so he went and found another watch and clocked Owens at the same time. This proved the fact that Riley had found a very gifted athlete that everyone was searching for and he is teaching him to become a man with values that will help him in the rest of his life. The first records that Owens set were in 1928 when he jumped six feet in the high jump and twenty two and eleven inches in the long jump. Riley then began...
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