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African-American History
Jesse Owens

OwensJesse Owens (Sept. 12, 1913 - Mar. 31, 1980) was one of the world's greatest track and field athletes, and an Olympic gold medal winner.

Jesse Owens was born in Alabama, the son of a sharecropper. His name was originally James Cleveland Owens. At the age of 9, his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he was given the nickname Jesse. Jesse was an excellent track athlete in junior high and high school, setting world records for his age group.

As an Ohio State University student, Owens set new world records in the 220 yard dash, the 200 yard hurdles, and the long jump (and equaled the record in the 100 yard) at the National Collegiate Track and Field Meet (on May 25, 1935).

The next year, at the 1936 Berlin Olympic games, Jesse Owens won 4 gold medals (in the 100 meter, 200 meter, 400 meter relay and the long jump) , set two Olympic records, and tied another. This humiliated Hitler (who was the leader of Germany at the time, and the person who began World War 2, killing millions of people). Owens' victories were an affront to Hitler's racial theories - Hitler had assumed that the "Aryans" (the Germanic race) would easily win.

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